A bike is no longer just a bike. Thanks to modern technology, bikes are now readily available in a variety of styles ranging from motorcycles and electric assisted bicycles to gas powered and pedal-only bikes. This means that hopping on your bicycle of choice and cruising down the road in Washington may not be as simple as it seems. State and local laws govern requirements like where you can ride, how old you must be, and whether you need a license or insurance to ride. So how can you be sure that you follow the law of the land when riding? These tips will help.
Defining an Electric Assisted Bicycle
It’s easy enough to understand that a standard adult bicycle has two wheels, two pedals, and relies upon human power to move. An electric assisted bicycle is a bit different because it can legally hold an electric motor of up to 1000 watts. However, Washington state law requires that an electric assisted bike also be capable of operating on human power alone. If running on electric power, the bike is not permitted to surpass 20 mph, and it cannot be ridden on the sidewalk. Though a license and insurance are not required, riders do need to be above the age of 16 in Washington.
Defining a Gas Powered Bicycle
The laws are fairly flexible for electric assisted bicycles, but not with gas powered bikes. The internal combustion engine required for gas powered bikes requires the use of a different set of laws. The bike qualifies as a moped or motorcycle based on the horsepower it produces. In Washington, a moped contains an engine that produces no more than two horsepower and a top speed of 30 mph, while a motorcycle is anything more powerful.
The bottom line? If you are riding an electric assisted bicycle, you can essentially follow the rules used for a human powered bicycle. If you are riding a gas powered bike, you must follow the rules set out for mopeds and motorcycles. When it comes to bike accidents, the Law Office of Joseph P. Bartek in Bellingham, Washington should be your first call. Attorney Bartek offers years of experience in handling motorcycle accidents for riders around Washington. Call (360) 526-8584 today to schedule your free consultation.