Mackinac Island police warn of the dangers of e-bikes after battery explosion causes fire and injuries

Electric bikes are indeed a controversial topic when it comes to Mackinac Island. But after a recent fire broke out due to a battery exploding, police are urging extra caution for anyone using a battery.

Mackinac Island Police Chief Doug Topolsky said Thursday that residents, visitors and employers who use e-bikes should “take whatever action is necessary to ensure that ebikes and e-batteries are not stored indoors under any circumstances.”

Tobolsky said that a recent fire in an apartment building was caused by an e-bike battery exploding, causing injuries to firefighters, which required hospitalization.”

“The recent fire had a very real potential to be catastrophic for the residential area occupied by the island’s full-time residents and seasonal employees. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that a fire of this nature could pose an existential threat to many of the island’s businesses and historic buildings if it were to occur,” Topolsky said. unnoticed in the downtown area.”


The topic of e-bikes on Mackinac Island has been hot in recent years with the growth of e-bikes, and the ban on motorized vehicles on the island.

Currently, the Mackinac Island e-bike policy goes as follows: E-bikes are not permitted on Mackinac Island. But there is an exception: Visitors with a qualifying “motor impairment” can ride Class 1 electric bikes on Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island City ordinance defines “mobility impairment” and spells out the specifications for permitted e-bikes.

  • Under the Mackinac Island city ordinance dealing with e-bikes, disability means “a physical impairment that significantly limits an individual’s ability to ride a bicycle.” For example, the law states that a person who cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest or who cannot walk without the assistance of an assistive device has a mobility impairment. Likewise, certain respiratory, cardiac, rheumatoid, neurological, and orthopedic health conditions are also considered movement impairments.
  • A Class 1 electric bike is a two-wheeled bicycle or tricycle. It has an electric motor of no more than 750 watts. The engine only starts when the rider is pedaling and stops once the bike reaches a speed of 20 mph.

  • Class 2 electric bikes with a motor that works even when the rider is not pedaling and Class 3 electric bikes that can exceed 20 mph are not allowed on Mackinac Island. (If you already have a Class 2 or Class 3 electric bike, you can still ride that vehicle on Mackinac Island by modifying it to meet Class 1 e-bike standards. You may be able to do this by removing the throttle, for example, or by by reprogramming the e-bike’s computer so that its speed does not exceed 20 miles per hour.)

The Grand Hotel has banned e-bikes from hotel buildings and staff residences.

Read more about the island’s e-bike policy here.

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