The bill for e-bike insurance in New Jersey is an absolute mess
The bill for e-bike insurance in New Jersey is an absolute mess

3 minute reading

From time to time, legislation in Trenton draws public attention for all the wrong reasons.

While we would like to think that our elected legislators are working to craft thoughtful laws that benefit everyday New Jerseyans, some bills are being introduced and pushed through the statehouse that are too narrowly focused and unclear What’s the purpose. Such is the case with New Jersey State Senate Bill S2292.

This bill would require all low-speed electric bicycles and scooters to be insured and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the same way as cars are today.

Full disclosure: I am in the business of selling and repairing bicycles and this legislation would negatively affect anyone who is in the business of selling and repairing bicycles. While this proposal may be a personal headache for me, that’s not why lawmakers should reject it. The bill as it stands does not appear to benefit anyone, with the possible exception of the lawyers in the case.

Simply put, this bill is an absolute mess. The key question regarding any proposed law is: why? What is the purpose here and what public policy problem is it trying to solve? Pedestrians and traditional bicycles are currently covered by no-fault insurance, but low-speed electric bicycles and scooters are not. They fall into a gray area that makes personal injury cases difficult to litigate. So why do we need new legislation to deal with this when simply amending the current no-fault car insurance statute would easily solve the problem?

This “decision” would open the door to a whole new category of lawsuits. This will allow individuals to sue for compensation for even minor accidents involving low-speed e-bikes and scooters. This in turn would generate a stream of new revenue for personal injury firms, but is that what we really need? This kind of brazen political maneuvering may not be shocking by New Jersey standards, but it should be.

S2292’s dubious goals aside, the bill’s feasibility raises serious concerns. It is practically impossible to introduce or implement. The DMV lacks the necessary infrastructure to manage or regulate this massive undertaking. Creating this system would be complicated and burdensome to taxpayers – not to mention causing even longer lines and waits at DMV offices. It would also be impossible to operate through the currently existing retail channels that sell e-bikes. The bill lacks any guidance on how these onerous provisions will work in practice.

Even the insurance industry, which would gain thousands of new paying customers, is strongly opposed to this proposal. There are currently no insurance products on the market that fulfill this obligation. The Insurance Council, the industry group that advocates for insurance companies and policyholders in Trenton, said it would take years to build a product they could sell for this new category of coverage.

Yes, we have reached a rare moment where insurance executives and motorcyclists are in complete agreement – ​​the sheer unfairness of this bill unites everyone.

If you own or want to buy an e-bike or scooter, this bill adds another layer of regulation and cost to an already bloated system. The average cost of car insurance in New Jersey is over $2,500 per year. Treating low-speed e-bikes and scooters as motor vehicles would make alternatives to cars more expensive, especially for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum who rely on affordable transport to work.

This flawed bill has nothing to do with security or justice. If it passes, personal injury lawyers will get rich, but at what cost? Fewer people will ride bikes, traffic and air quality will worsen, workers will have less money, food and other delivery services will cost more, and the number of deaths will increase with more cars on the road. What a compromise.

There are far more pressing issues when it comes to transportation accessibility and safety than misguided registration and insurance requirements for every e-bike in the state. Lawmakers must put the brakes on this cynical proposal before it’s too late.

Brendan Poe is the owner of Cycle Craft, an independent bike shop in Parsippany.

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