Guest author: Connie Szabo Schmucker, Advocacy Director, Bicycle Garage Indy
It’s been a long time coming for safe passing legislation in Indiana, and a short timeframe for the electric bicycles legislation. Hopefully this positive development for bicycling in Indiana will translate into more people riding bicycles and more motorists understanding how to safely pass people riding bicycles.
2019 Indiana General Assembly Bicycle-related Bills
- HB 1236 Electric Bicycles – added HB 1439 as an amendment, passed House, Senate and signed into law effective 7/1/2019
- SB 361 Electric Bicycles – dropped due to HB 1236 progressing
- SB 89 Safe Passing of Bicycles – dropped due to HB 1236 progressing
- HB 1439 Safe Passing of Bicycles – added as amendment to HB 1236
- SB 463 Bicycles, Skate, skateboard, scooter helmet requirement – no progress (a good thing)
Electric Bicycle Bills in Indiana
The Electric Bicycle bills were promoted by People for Bikes, Bicycle Products and Suppliers Association, (BPSA) to better define the laws regarding pedal-assist electric bicycles. These groups paid for lobbyist Kip Tew from Ice Miller to help advance these bills in the Indiana state legislature. Indiana is one of 19 states that has enacted model e-bike legislation.
The bill defines electric bicycles into three classes (based on pedal- or throttle-assist and top speed) and allows them to be treated the same as bicycles.
- People for Bikes work on e-bike legislation
- Indiana’s e-bike info sheet (updated to reflect the current legislation getting signed):
Safe Passing Legislation in Indiana
Bicycle Indiana had been working with state legislators for several years to get a safe passing bill passed statewide. Many Indiana communities have safe passing ordinances already, but there was no state law. View a map.
During the legislative session, Rep. Heaton asked to have his Safe Passing bill (HB 1439) be added to as an amendment Rep. Crider’s Electric Bicycles bill (HB 1236). Rep. Crider and People for Bikes agreed and HB 1439 was added and the two bills became one under HB 1236. When the opportunity came to have the Safe Passing bill amended into the Electric Bicycles bill, it was something that was promoted through Bicycle Garage Indy, Bicycle Indiana and bicycle organizations throughout the state. There were several calls to action put out by Bicycle Indiana encouraging people to contact their legislators. Bicycle Garage Indy posted and shared updates on facebook, created an Indiana Bike Bills page on our website, and in our e-newsletters to our customer base. Bicycle Indiana had a Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day on January 31, the day after HB 1439 was amended into HB 1236. People for Bikes also sent calls to action to their members in Indiana, a SRAM representative and another industry representative testified in the House committee hearing. I personally contacted my state senator and representative via email, phone and in person on Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day. Once the bill was passed and signed, there were also several social media posts about it, encouraging people to thank their legislators for their support.
HB 1236 passed unanimously out of the House Committee, full House, Senate Committee with technical amendments and out of the Senate. On the House concurrence vote on the senate amendments, it passed nearly unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Holcomb on May 2. The law will be effective July 1, 2019.
What this bill means:
- E-bikes are better defined, will be regulated like bicycles, and have some restrictions regarding where they can be ridden and who can ride the class 3 e-bikes (which can go 28 mph before the motor stops assisting)
- Motorists will be required to give at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists
- Motorists may cross the double yellow line in order to pass bicyclists if they can do so safely
- There will be able to be statewide education of drivers about safe passing of bicycles