On the way home on the Burke-Gilman Trail tonight a cyclist traveling in the opposite direction angrily yelled “e-bike!” at me. According to Strava, I was going somewhere between 11 and 12 mph at the time. The other cyclist – by my judgement at the time – was going a little faster than I was.
Moving past whatever that was about, I decided to look at what the current situation with e-bikes on trails is. Here’s what I found:
A Washington State law signed earlier this year defined classes of e-bikes. Our Packster 80 is a Class 1 e-bike. The new law is summarized in this article.
Class 1 and Class 2 bicycles can operate on a “shared-use path or any part of a highway designated for the use of bicycles,” the bill says. However, local jurisdictions and state agencies may impose their own additional limitations.
As for the question of limitations imposed by Seattle, a pilot program started recently. From “E-bikes Coming to Seattle Multi-Use Trails”:
The pilot, which runs through Summer of 2019, will allow for Class 1 and 2 e-bikes to ride the trails at speeds of up to 15mph.
My son asked me if 15 mph is too fast. I told him that it depends on the presence of other trail users (particularly pedestrians) and clear sight lines forward and to the sides. I adjust my speed to keep it safe for me, my passengers, and others around us.