Christian Angelo (August 18, 2021)
Colorado ranks seventh in the 2019 Bicycle Friendly State Rankings. The ranking is categorized by 5 bicycle-friendly actions - Infrastructure and Funding, Education and Encouragement, Legislation and Enforcement, Policies and Programs, and Evaluation and Planning.
With the advent of e-bikes and their rising popularity, states have been implementing traffic rules and regulations for everyone’s safety. These rules vary from nation-states regulations, state-specific rules, and local regulations. People for Bikes has acknowledged the need for clearer regulations on e-bikes and is pushing for a uniform legislation in the U.S.
In this article, you’re going to learn about electric bike laws in the state of Colorado.
Electric bikes are just like traditional bicycles, except for the integrated low-speed electric motor that provides a power boost to help the rider climb hills, ride longer, and encourage more rides. E-bikes come in different shapes and sizes - commuter, mountain bike, cruiser, fat bike, touring, recumbent, tandem and others.
The number of electric bicycle users grows annually. In 2016, e-bikes were just 1% of total sales in the bike market. By 2017, the percentage increased to 7%, along with ridership and engagement. In 2018, the e-bike market was worth $14,755 million worldwide. In 2019, it was estimated that $15.42 billions worth of electric bicycles were sold and expected to reach higher growth rates by 2020-2025, estimated at 7.49%.
The state of Colorado is teeming with all kinds of bike parks - from plains to the peaks, dirt bike parks to trails. There are bike trails for everyone’s style and experience levels. In the summer, ski resorts offer lift access for bikes and allow bikers to enjoy the high mountain trails.
Last August 2017, the advent of electric bikes in the state paved the way for an update in the regulations for operating bicycles.
The state of Colorado defines an electric bicycle as a bicycle with two or three wheels, fully operable pedals, and an electric motor that does not exceed 750 watts.
Electric Bicycle Regulations and Classifications
Electric bicycle and electric scooter riders are not required to register their vehicles nor operate with a license. There are three classifications of electric bicycles that can be followed. A label that shows the bike’s classification, top assisted speed, and motor wattage is required. An upgraded or modified electric bike requires an updated label as well.
The state of Colorado defines electric scooters as a device:
Local laws pertaining to e-scooters must not be more restrictive than those pertaining to the first class of e-bikes.
Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles, and scooters can be driven in the same bicycle and pedestrian paths as regular bikes, unless otherwise restricted. Class 3 electric bicycles are prohibited for riding on a bicycle or pedestrian path, unless the path is within a street or a highway or the local jurisdiction permits so.
Local jurisdictions have the power to authorize any prohibitions in the operation of electric bicycles and scooters on any bike or pedestrian path as long as it is under its own jurisdiction.
There are no age restrictions and helmet laws for riders or passengers of Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles. For Class 3 e-bikes, the rider must be above 16. Passengers are exempted from this age restriction. Additionally, anyone on a Class 3 e-bike who is below 18 years old must wear a helmet.
Violators of these regulations are subject to a class B traffic infraction, a $15 fine and $6 surcharge.
Furthermore, electric bicycles are required to follow many of the state regulations pertaining to conventional bicycles. According to state law, persons riding an e-bike:
These regulations may vary depending on local jurisdiction. Persons riding an e-bike are encouraged to check local ordinances and regulations before riding to avoid any violations and for safety.
As of 2021, 30 states, along with Colorado, have passed legislation that specifically defines and regulates electric bicycles. States without specific definitions and guidelines on electric bicycles often classify them within other vehicles, like mopeds or motorized bicycles.
California, Tennessee, and Utah, do not implement electric bicycle registration and license and insurance requirements, just like in Colorado.
In Florida, electric bicycles are legally defined as bicycles, so they are allowed to be operated on the same trails as regular bicycles.
Many states have also made certain exceptions to allow local governments to implement stricter regulations. In Vermont, municipalities are allowed to regulate e-bikes as long as the rules are not conflicting with state laws.
Generally, electric bicycle rules and regulations are intended to address safety concerns regarding the use of electric bicycles with high speed limits. Traffic laws are implemented to organize and control public roadways. It is very important to follow them. Not only will it keep you safe, but it will also help you avoid legal troubles.