Rise in the popularity of electric-assist bicycles prompts need to update Washington laws

Tomorrow, January 31, Senate and House Transportation committees will hear SB 6434 (Rolfes) and HB 2782 (Kilduff), these companion bills will update Washington’s electric-assist bicycles laws.

IMG_4324An 85-year-old with diabetes; a woman who suffered a stroke; a young family living car-free. These are the types of people who are benefiting from the growing availability and improved technology of electric-assist bicycles. Now, Washington Bikes is leading efforts in Olympia to ensure people like them will be able to use their e-bikes on trails and on-street bike lanes.

Newly introduced legislation clarifies the definition of electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) and updates regulations to treat specific e-bikes more like traditional bicycles, allowing more types of users to enjoy the health benefits and accessibility that come with bicycling.

The e-bike industry has taken off in recent years, with e-bike sales up more than 450% since 2013, according to The NPD Group. As the e-bike industry has been fast to innovate and grow, current state law pertaining to e-bikes is outdated. SB 6434/HB 2782 will update Washington state e-bike laws to national standards and provide certainty for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Arkansas, California, Colorado and others have already implemented this legislative update.

This legislation will ensure e-bike users can ride their bikes in safe and connected places. E-bikes are important for older adults, family biking, people with disabilities and people who want to ride, but may feel intimidated by a traditional bike. By flattening hills and allowing for ease of pedaling, e-bikes increase accessibility to getting around by bicycle and the health benefits that come with!

What’s in the legislation:

  • Adoption of three-class system for e-bikes


  • Class 1 and 2 e-bikes permitted on shared-use paths and bike lanes subject to local control. Class 3 e-bikes use on streets and paths within or adjacent to a highway subject to local and agency control.
  • Require labeling of classification number and top-assisted speed on all e-bikes sold after July 2018.

Do you have an e-biking story to share? We’re collecting stories like yours to demonstrate how e-bikes help more people – and more types of people – integrate biking into their lives.

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