When Brian (our CMO) came to me this morning and asked me to read Washington State Senate Bill 5452, “an act relating to electric-assisted bicycles” I can’t say that I dug right in. But after drinking some coffee, answering some emails and generally putzing around a little, I got into the bill and ended up down a rabbit hole of information on the current state of e-bike laws.
Senate Bill 5452 is one of many bills that is being tossed around as law makers work to catch up with how to classify and regulate the use of electric bicycles. Many states, including our great state of Utah, regulate e-bikes based on what class of e-bike they are considered. There are three classes:
- Class 1: Maximum pedal assisted speed of 20mph. They do not have a throttle. Max 750W (1hp) motor.
- Class 2: Can have a throttle (and pedal assist) and are also limited to a top speed of 20mph. Max 750W (1hp) motor.
- Class 3: Maximum pedal assisted speed of 28mph. They do not have a throttle. Max 750W (1hp) motor.
Some e-bikes, including our bikes, allow the user to change the settings of the bike to limit the speed and remove the throttle. This allows the bike to be ridden in the largest amount of places as it can conform to any class of e-bike. It is important to remember to do a little bit of research when riding in a new area if you are concerned about the specific e-bike laws.
This is because at this point there isn’t much of a consensus throughout the United states on where e-bikes should and should not be allowed. However, many regulators are seeing the potential benefits of e-bikes. This means that many e-bike laws and regulations are favorable to opening up more areas for riding.
Some of the benefits law makers are drawn to are:
- Bringing down emissions caused by traditional gas guzzling vehicles
- E-bikes can help to ease traffic congestion in cities and other busy areas
- Biking is made more accessible, people who are out of shape or otherwise impaired may have an easier time on an e-bike than compared to a traditional bike
- E-bikes are becoming more affordable and available
The National Park Service (NPS), for example, recently decided that they would not classify e-bikes as motor vehicles. Motor vehicles are prohibited in many areas under the jurisdiction of the NPS. So this ruling increases the opportunities for using e-bikes on public lands. And this seems to be the trend for e-bike laws across the country.
I found similar ideas in the state bill for Washington that got me interested in e-bike laws. In this bill they propose differentiating between mopeds and e-bikes. And to regulate electric bikes more similarly to a traditional bicycle. This would allow e-bikes on roads and to be parked anywhere traditional bikes can be parked. Although some of these rules would not apply to class 3 e-bikes (this is why having an e-bike that can conform to different classes is a huge advantage).
All in all, It is looking like a bright future for us e-bike users as more people become familiar with the benefits of riding an electric bicycle. The e-bike laws that are being proposed and approved across the country seem to be largely favorable towards opening up more areas for e-bikers. So how long are you going to wait to discover the benefits of riding an electric bicycle?