UPDATE #2: It's a Bicycle, It's a Motorcycle, It's a Motor Vehicle...No, It's an Electric Bicycle
Three more states – Washington (March 13, 2018), Arizona (May 16, 2018) and Connecticut (June 14, 2018) – have adopted specific electric bicycle (e-bike) legislation joining Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, Utah and Michigan. States like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have e-bike legislation pending.
Some of the material differences and interesting notes from the most recent wave of electric bicycle legislation are:
- Washington, Arizona and Connecticut are silent to any fines, penalties or consequences for electric bicycle manufacturers, distributors, retailers and/or consumers failure to comply with its electric bicycle laws (which is consistent with most states to-date). Without any deterrence, there less incentive to spend the time and cost to comply with these laws.
- Washington and Connecticut are the only states that expressly require electric bicycle manufacturers and distributors to comply with applicable Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) regulations, most notably 16 C.F.R. Part 1512. Most major manufacturers and distributors are already aware of and comply with the CPSC’s bicycle regulations; however, such compliance will mean additional cost and expense for some. Others may contend that 1512 should not apply considering the definition of “bicycle” under Section 1512.2(a)(2) does not align with the fairly uniform definitions of Class 1, 2 and 3 electric bicycles (which may explain its adoption by only two states). Considering 1512 has not been amended since 1978 and there is some distinction in the “bicycle” definition as mentioned above, perhaps this may be the perfect opportunity to amend and update the CPSC bicycle regulations.
- Connecticut now requires that all electric bicycle riders and passengers must wear a CPSC-approved helmet. This new law adds an additional layer of complexity to Connecticut’s separate law requiring that all bicycle riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
- The State of Washington has wisely addressed what would presumably be a common question of how to handle shared-use paths and other paved trails that cross multiple cities or counties. For designated bicycle paths (which includes electric bicycles) that cross two or more jurisdictions, Washington requires that the bicycle and/or electric bicycle use rules must be consistent across the entire path for such rules to be enforceable (e.g. Interurban Trail system).
For a more detailed, state-by-state analysis of current e-bike legislation, please see chart provided here: