Washington State E-bike Laws

Last Edited
November 7, 2021

Washington State E-bike Laws

Christian Angelo 9-28-21

In 2018, the state of Washington implemented a new legal framework, in line with national standards, that is dedicated to the electric bicycle industry. This new legislation paved the way for a more secure environment for the e-bike community. Electric bicycle enthusiasts were delighted when the law was finally implemented.

E-bikes are now clearly defined because of the new law. E-bike use is more regulated and the local authority has been given the right to enforce or manage e-bike operations on streets and trails under its own jurisdiction.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the new e-bike law.

What is the purpose of the e-bike bill?

The new bill includes e-bikes in the definition of a bicycle. Previously, there was no specific definition for e-bikes, which made cyclists and the local authority hesitant. The state now adapts the three distinct classes of e-bikes, which is recognized by more than 20 other states. Furthermore, rules around the operation of e-bikes have been updated.

What is an electric bicycle?

According to the Washington State Legislature, an electric-assisted bicycle is:

“a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than seven hundred fifty watts. The electric-assisted bicycle must meet the requirements of one of the following three classifications:

  • (1) "Class 1 electric-assisted bicycle" means an electric-assisted bicycle in which the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour;
  • (2) "Class 2 electric-assisted bicycle" means an electric-assisted bicycle in which the motor may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle and is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour; or
  • (3) "Class 3 electric-assisted bicycle" means an electric-assisted bicycle in which the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty-eight miles per hour and is equipped with a speedometer.”

Can I ride my e-bike anywhere?

No, you cannot ride your e-bike anywhere because there are certain roads or pathways that do not allow e-bikes. It also depends on what e-bike you are using. Generally, class 1 and 2 e-bikes may go everywhere regular bikes can. E-bikes may also have access to state highways. E-bike parking is also the same with regular bicycles. 

Class 1 and class 2 e-bikes are allowed on shared-use paths and roads that are designated for bicycle-riding. Class 1 and 2 may be ridden on sidewalks as well.  However, the state agencies or local authorities may limit the access or prohibit the use of e-bikes on facilities, properties, and rights-of-way- under their own jurisdiction and control.

A class 3 e-bike is allowed on roads within or adjacent to a highway. You cannot ride a class 3 on sidewalks, unless you are left with no other safe option to travel to. You cannot ride a class 3 on a shared-use path, unless it is permitted by local authorities. Local authorities also have the right to regulate or prohibit the use of class 3 e-bikes on roads under their own jurisdiction.

For trails, e-bikes are not allowed on trails that are designated for non-motorized activities, unless granted permission by the local authority.

Do I need a drivers license?

NO, there is no need for a driver's license if you are at least 16 years old. People below the age of 16 are prohibited from operating e-bikes. E-bikes are not licensable for street use.

What equipment do I need?

Your e-bike must have the following equipment:

  • 2-3 wheels
  • A firm saddle seat
  • Fully operational pedals
  • Electric motor less than 1000 watts
  • E-bike must comply to speed limit
  • Fully approved safety helmet

Frequently Asked Questions

Are e-bikes faster compared to traditional bikes?

E-bikes can accelerate faster than traditional bikes because of the electric assist. There is a 0-5 mph difference between an e-bike and a traditional bike. It is also easier to pedal on e-bikes because of the electric motor. 

Why is an e-bike’s power output restricted?

The power output limit is 750 watts because it is in line with federal consumer protection regulations. A vehicle with a wattage of more than 750 will be classified as a motor, and will be subject to licensure and registration.

Are cyclists the only party included in the law?

No, manufacturers and distributors are now subject to a labeling requirement. They are required to permanently affix a label, in Arial font and at least 9-point type. This label must be visible in a prominent location and must indicate the top assisted speed, classification number, and motor wattage.

My e-bike was bought before the implementation, What should I do?

E-bikes that were purchased before the implementation are not subject to the new requirements.

What are the advantages of e-bike?

E-bikes offer a whole new riding experience to a larger range of people. If you are not physically fit to ride a traditional bike, you may want to give an e-bike a chance. Riding e-bikes requires less effort because of the availability of electric assist. By opting for an e-bike, you will be able to travel easily, ride longer, and climb hills with minimum effort. 


Ebike regulations in the United States varies from state to state. Washington adopted the new e-bike law in 2018. It gave a clearer definition for e-bikes and where e-bikes can be operated. It also included additional rules like safety equipment and manufacturing requirements. Helmets must be worn all the time. You do not need a driver's license if you want to ride an e-bike. However, you must be at least 16 years old.

E-bikes may be faster compared to traditional bikes. The power output of e-bikes is restricted so that it will retain its definition. An e-bike that is purchased prior to the implementation is not subject to the new rules. E-bikes bring a lot of advantages that you will surely enjoy!

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