In spring 2018, Washington State Passed new e-Bike Legislation. So, What’s the Law? And what was Evergreen’s Role & Approach?

Evergreen worked with industry stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework for e-Bikes and e-Mountain Bikes (e-MTB). The 2018 Legislation was primarily focused on allowing e-bike access on paved non-motorized trails for urban commuting and recreational purposes.

 

Our focus in this initial legislation was narrow– we wanted to ensure that:    

  • The new law established a sensible regulatory framework that defined e-bikes as non-motorized bicycles according to three unique e-Bike classes.
  • Enabled land managers to introduce e-MTB access on non-motorized trails in locations where the new technology may be appropriate.
  • e-Bike management objectives for paved or otherwise improved surface non-motorized trails were separated from e-MTB management objectives for natural surface single track trails.   
  • The management baseline remained “closed to e-MTBs, unless signed open,” to allow strategic introduction where appropriate, and avoid trail conflict.
  • Limit single track trail access to Class 1 e-MTBs only (human-powered/pedal assist up to 20Mph).

We are satisfied with the outcome of this initial legislation as it defines e-Bikes as bikes, addresses a critical need for urban bike commuters and gives land managers specific authority to implement e-bike policies.

This means Evergreen can now work with Land Managers to advocate for e-MTB access in places where we believe it makes sense, and where it does not threaten trail funding eligibility, existing uses, or a quality trail experience for others. 

 

In Summary, Washington e-Bike Law...

1. Established a regulatory framework for e-bikes and their use.

2. 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.

3. Gives land managers specific authority to regulate use of e-bikes on their properties. 

4. Requires prominent labeling for all e-bikes containing the Classification Number, Top Assisted Speed, and Motor Wattage.

5. Enables Class 1 and 2 e-Bike access to roads, bike lanes and non-motorized paved and improved surface recreational trails, unless specifically restricted or signed closed by the local jurisdiction.

6. Restricts e-MTB access to single track natural surface trails– unless the land manager designates and signs the trail as “open to e-MTBs.”

 

How Does WA State's e-Bike Legislation Affect You?

By default, all single-track trails are closed to e-MTBs, unless signed open and permitted by the land manager. E-MTBs are allowed on all motorized recreational trails, which encompass hundreds of miles across the state, including epic single track in many of our National Forests.

Do the right thing: If there is no signage designating a non-motorized trail as open to e-MTB– Stay Off!

 

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 enables Evergreen to work on future legislation specific to trails.

Because e-bikes are not lumped in with motorized vehicles (like dirt bikes), this law makes it 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 but are not deemed compatible with with non-motorized trail uses;
  • Funding eligibility risk for future state, federal, and local grants; and
  • Ability for land managers to enforce the regulations.

Interested in hearing the discussion? Check out Evergreen Executive Director, Yvonne Kraus,

discussing E-Bike policy on an expert panel with Front Lines MTB.

 

 

Suggested Trails for e-MTB Fun!

If you’re an e-MTB user, "Where can I legally ride?" is probably your main question. Evergreen will work hard to ensure the best experience for MTB and e-MTB riders alike.

Check our Trail Guide for a list of fun (and legal) trails (from Seattle to Wenatchee) for e-MTBers to explore.

Remember: Always check land manager regulations before riding a new trail!

What's Next for Evergreen and the e-MTB Industry?

We’re doing a number of things to address the fast-growing e-MTB technology: 

Surveying our partner communities. Evergreen facilitated land manager discussion panels at trail conferences and events to discuss e-MTB impacts and considerations on multi-use trails.  

We deeply care about e-MTB impact to the non-biker experience on multi-use trails to ensure that mountain bike access to non-motorized trail is not questioned or threatened. 

Assessing risks to MTB trail funding. We’re working with our grant agencies to determine whether e-MTB access to trails could potentially leave Evergreen ineligible for non-motorized trail grants.

If the grant agencies don’t view e-MTBs as “non-motorized,” Evergreen’s future grant opportunities could be greatly limited, as bike trails open to e-MTBs would no longer qualify for grants.

We're carefully assessing any potential risk to that funding as it remains our biggest income source for trail building and maintenance.

Assisting land managers with creative solutions. We expect several land management agencies to develop access policies for e-MTBs over the next few years, and Evergreen remains a close advisor in these discussions.

Several land managers are evaluating development of e-MTB trails closer to urban areas, as well as innovative ways to make them a reality. King County Parks—recognizing the lack of motorized trails in their parks and trail networks—is exploring options for new e-MTB specific trails in response to growing demand.

Facilitating ongoing discussion. We are working to convene our State’s Recreation and Advocacy organizations in identifying access and policy options for Class 1 e-MTBs. We will also continue to engage land managers in regional panel discussion on this topic to identify a sustainable way to advocate for, introduce, and manage the new technology on trails without jeopardizing the trail access we worked so hard to secure over the past 30 years.

 

Learn More About Trails Open to e-MTBs in our Trail Guide

In addition to the trails listed below, all motorized trails in Washington are also open to e–MTBs.

Click on the pins for more info