New E-bike legislation passed

The Washington State Legislature just passed a new law clarifying where e-bikes are, and aren’t, allowed. This new legislation says that unless specifically allowed, motorized mountain bikes are prohibited from natural surface trails. Lopez Hill is managed by the San Juan County Land Bank, which currently prohibits motorized vehicles from its preserves.

No e-bikes are allowed on Lopez Hill trails. Please respect the law and be courteous to other trail users.

From the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance:

E-Bike Legislation Passes in WA Senate and House.

This month, a new electric-assisted bicycle (e-bike) legislation bill (SB 6434) passed the Senate and the House, and it is anticipated to be signed by the Governor soon.  In short, this bill allows e-bike use on paved trails, but restricts use on natural surface trails, unless the land manager specifically allows it.

Evergreen worked with non-motorized recreation groups to assist the Legislature in refining the bill’s language, and encouraged clear distinction between e-bike use on paved trails vs. natural surface trails. Here’s where we landed:

What Does this Bill Do?

  1. It defines what an e-bike is in Washington State, and establishes a regulatory framework for their use.
  2. 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.
  3. It gives land managers specific authority to regulate the use of e-bikes on their properties.
  4. It requires prominent labeling for all e-bikes containing the Classification Number, Top Assisted Speed, and Motor Wattage”.

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

Evergreen collaborated with other outdoor recreation groups to include language defining natural surface trails, and treating them differently than paved bike paths.  The end result is that e-bikes are not allowed on natural surface trails, unless signed or stated open by the managing jurisdiction.

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.

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.

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