WA’s electric-assisted bicycle (e-bike) legislation bill (SB 6434) defines e-bikes as a type of bicycle (not as a motorized vehicle). It allows e-bike use on paved trails, but restricts use on natural surface trails--unless the land manager specifically allows it.
What Does this Bill Do?
- It defines what an e-bike is in Washington State, and establishes a regulatory framework for their use.
- SB 6434 classifies e-bikes as bicycles, as long as its power output is no more than 750 watts, it has a saddle, includes fully operative pedals, and meets the criteria of the following classes:
- Class 1: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: Can be propelled solely by the motor, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
- Class 3: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 28 mph, and has a speedometer.
- It gives land managers specific authority to regulate the use of e-bikes on their properties.
- It requires prominent labeling for all e-bikes containing the Classification Number, Top Assisted Speed, and Motor Wattage”.
Interested in hearing the discussion? Check out Executive Director Yvonne Kraus discussing e-bike policy on the expert panel with Front Lines MTB.
What Does this Bill Mean for E-Bike Use?
1) Road, Bike Lanes and Paved Trails
Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are now allowed on roads, in bike lanes and on paved trails. Local and State jurisdictions may restrict or limit their use.
2) Natural Surface Trails
E-bikes are not allowed on natural surface trails, unless signed or stated open by the managing jurisdiction. Trails can now be opened to e-bikes without being open to motorized vehicles (dirt bikes).
Next steps for Evergreen
We are satisfied with the outcome of this initial legislation, as it addresses a critical need for urban bike commuters, and gives land managers specific authority to implement e-bike policies. It also recognizes that there is a crucial difference between road and trail use and it enables Evergreen to work on future legislation specific to trails, if deemed necessary. Because e-bikes are not lumped in with motorized vehicles (like dirt bikes), it's easier for land managers to open trails to them.
How e-bike use is regulated is crucial to Evergreen for several reasons:
- Concerns by our partners in joint non-motorized recreation planning efforts;
- Potential loss of trail access if land managers choose to close trails to all “bikes” because e-bikes are now defined as bicycles;
- Funding eligibility risk for future state, federal, and local grants; and
- Ability for land managers to enforce the regulations.
It remains crucial to monitor the actual use and implementation of this legislation. While its passage ends the “free-for-all” e-bike use on roads and paved paths through regulation, there is still work to be done on how this relates to mountain biking, and we have concerns on how this bill defines “natural surface trails”.
Our goal is to ensure appropriate legislation is in place for land managers to effectively manage e-bikes on mountain bike trails. We’re working hard to stay on top of the issue, and devise and promote solutions that best advance our sport.