Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular choice of transportation in Washington. And for good reason: these battery-powered bicycles are both economical and eco-friendly. You also don’t need a license to ride one. Whether you’ve already purchased an e-bike or are considering one, take time to familiarize yourself on the electric bike laws in Washington.
First let’s look at how Washington State law defines an electric bicycle:
“Electric-assisted bicycle” means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle’s electric motor must have a power output of no more than seven hundred fifty watts.
There are three different classifications, legal to ride in Washington:
Sometimes, certain classifications may be not permitted for use on some roads or areas. Make sure you know before you go!
An electric bicycle has a battery-powered motor attached to the frame. Some models essentially allow the cyclist the opportunity to ride without having to pedal at all – a real plus if traveling up a steep hill or great distance. However, the cyclist can also turn off the motor and use the pedals as you would any other bicycle. The electric bike also has a controller to monitor power consumption, distance covered, and current battery charge.
Clearly, there are some advantages to owning an electric bicycle! For one, you can travel faster and with less effort than a traditional bicycle. It’s also an eco-friendly option for city dwellers and commuters as it produces no carbon emissions.
Before you hit the road with your new e-bike, make sure you’re aware of these Washington State laws.
For more on this topic, see the WSDOT page on bicycles. Also, remember that laws are subject to change, so make sure to keep an eye on them.
E-bikes are still relatively new, so it’s natural to expect changes.
The good news is that e-bikes can generally be ridden anywhere traditional bikes are permitted. This includes mixed-use trails, bike lanes, and roads, unless otherwise noted. In late 2020, the Bureau of Land Management amended its regulations to allow e-bikes on areas other off-road vehicles are permitted.
However, there are some places you cannot ride your e-bike. If you’re encountering a single-path trail and there’s no signage permitting motorized vehicles, stay off. Many mountain trails strictly prohibit e-bikes. Land managers also can opt to exclude access. Class 3 bikes may have further limited access. Make sure to research where you plan to go ahead of time.
You must be at least 16 years old to ride an electric bike in the State of Washington. However, you do not need to hold a driver’s license to be able to ride an electric bike.
Another reason that electric bikes are popular is because there is no licensing, registration, or insurance requirement. However, there are a couple good reasons for reaching out to your insurance agent anyway:
Make sure to call your agent to discuss your options.
Hurt in an e-bike accident? Perhaps a driver wasn’t paying attention and crashed into you? Or – you suspect your crash was due to a bike malfunction? That’s where we can help. Please call our team. It’s free to do so and you’re under no obligation.