Electric-Assisted Bicycles Rules of the Road/Epic Law

Electric-Assisted bicycles are everywhere these days. An article on estimates that between 2020-2023 upwards of 130 million electric bikes will be sold worldwide. Due to the rapid increase cities and states are racing to create laws to keep you safe. To help you ride safely we’ve compiled these resources to help you understand and navigate the rules of the road for Electric-Assisted Bicycles (EAB or E-Bikes).

Did you know there are 3 classifications of Electric-Assisted Bicycles?an older man looks down at devices on on the handles of an electric bike

According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 46-04-169) an Electric-Assisted Bicycle (EAB) is defined as having two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals and an electric motor with no more than seven hundred and fifty watts of power output. Class 1 means the bike motor only helps when the rider is pedaling and ceases to assist when the bike reaches 20 MPH. A Class 2 bike is defined as an electric bicycle in which the motor can be used exclusively, but is not capable of aiding beyond 20 MPH. Finally, Class 3 bikes only provide pedal assistance and only ceases to help when the bike goes beyond 28 MPH. Class 3 E-bikes will also be equipped with a speedometer.


Rules of the Road for Electric-Assisted Bicycles 

  • No class of EAB is allowed on fully controlled, limited access highways. No class of EAB is allowed on trails that are designated for non-motorized use. (However, the Washington State Department of Resources is gathering feedback and input on the use of E-Bikes on trails.)
  • No class 3 E-Bikes are allowed on sidewalks or crosswalks.
  • Class 1 and 2 EAB can use shared use (aka: bike lanes) parts of the highway designated for bicycles. Class 3 E-Bikes are not allowed to use shared use lanes.
  • All EABs must obey posted speed limits, they shall yield to pedestrians and human powered devices and use audible signals when passing pedestrians.

(More information about general requirements and operation of E-bikes can be found on RCW 46-61-710.)

What do you do if you have an accident while riding your E-Bike?

Accidents are scary anytime, especially if you’re hit while riding a bike. After you’ve checked yourself for injuries the first thing you need to do is call the police. The temptation to try and negotiate with the other party is strong, but don’t do it. The police will assess the scene and record important information from everyone involved. It’s important to have a police report if you need to file an insurance claim (some insurance companies require a police report when you file a claim) or when you contact a professional like Evergreen Personal Injury Council to help you.

While you’re waiting for the police to arrive you can obtain and copy the other party’s Driver’s License, get any witnesses’ contact information and document what happened before you forget any important details. A cell phone comes in handy for taking pictures of the other party’s license and insurance card, or taking pictures and video of the scene directly after the accident before vehicles have been moved. You can also provide commentary on what you remember happening as you pan your phone around the site of the accident. Check out this infographic created by Evergreen Personal Injury Council for an illustration of exactly what to do.

Electric-Assisted Bicycle Injuries in Washington State

Even with the new rules of the road for Electric-Assisted Bicycles accidents happen.  If you or someone you know is involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence while riding an E-Bike please call our team at Evergreen Personal Injury Council. We are here to help you.