Electric bikes stir up bylaw confusion – news – wicked local wellfleet – wellfleet, ma electricity usage in the us


Erica Apicella and Heather Baker, owners of Coast Provincetown, have started renting out 14 URB-E bikes that they purchased for $2,000 each. Provincetown Bike Rental also offers pedal-assist electric bikes for rent. And the Bike Shack sells electric bikes for purchase only.

According to town zoning bylaws, officials have the right to restrict where such businesses can operate. It is “not acceptable to conduct business within the public way or on town property without the proper licensing or approval of the [select board],” Gardner stated in the press release. It is also not acceptable to conduct business on MacMillan Pier without approval from the Public Pier Corp.

Though their business plan called for dropping off bicycles at MacMillan Pier as soon as customers arrived by ferry from Boston, they are fine with limiting drop-off and pick-up of the bikes to private property. They also agree that the bikes must park in car parking spaces rather than at bike racks, to conform to town bylaws, Baker said.

“There’s a congestion issue and we respect that,” Apicella said. “We’re not looking to cause problems. We are looking to rent bikes and make some extra income so we can live here. Our goal is to live here. We decided to start a business and in a short time if we do this right we can buy property. … We want an open conversation with the town and the chance to show them that this is a harmless and safe business.”

“Although electric bicycles may be classified as ‘motorized two-wheel vehicles’ for purposes of the bylaw, it is my opinion that the bylaw is not enforceable as a result of prior litigation involving a similar issue,” Giorgio is quoted in the press release. He referred to the case of Rogers v. Town of Provincetown, in which the court ruled the “bylaw was invalid because it was inconsistent with state law, [which] allows the use of such vehicles on any public ways in the commonwealth.

“In my opinion, although the wording in the present bylaw is slightly different than the wording of the bylaw considered by the court in Rogers, the result would be the same if the town attempted to apply the present bylaw to prohibit the operation of a motorized vehicle,” Giorgio stated.

“I felt confident because the bylaw was defeated in the past,” Reilly said. “The definitions are hazy. … These bikes are great for many people, especially people with disabilities. I had a family come in last year. It was a mother and father with two kids and the mother had a cane. Thanks to the pedal assist on my e-bikes, she was able to join her family for a day of riding.”

“I’m getting groups of six to eight people coming into my shop,” she said. “One person wants to rent an e-bike and the others don’t. They just want to go get it all in one place and not go from one shop to another, so I’m already losing customers. And it’s like, wait, we were told we couldn’t rent them and we’ve been following the rules. … I want to be able to compete fairly. And I want it to be safe, that’s all.”

“The town could petition for special legislation to exempt it from certain provisions of the general laws in order to address unique circumstances that may not be shared with other communities,” he stated. “Downtown Provincetown and Commercial Street area are heavily congested, with narrow streets and sidewalks, and a great deal of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, particularly in the summer months.”