E-Bikes and Trails

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. :bicyclist:

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.