Electric Bikes And The Law In Seattle

limebike e-bikeIf you’re among the thousands that enjoy using Seattle’s various bicycle share companies, you’ll soon be getting a boost.

Popular bike share company LimeBike plans to introduce its new "Lime-E" bikes this month in Seattle. Electric-assist bikes – commonly referred to as “E-bikes” – use battery power to help your legs. LimeBike states that its E-bikes will be able to cruise at top speeds of 15 mph on its 250-watt motor. The maximum range of the dockless bikes is 62 miles.

LimeBike’s E-bikes are more expensive than the human-powered ones at about $7 an hour. Students and low-income residents will receive discounts, the company states.

Electric Bikes And The Law

Washington State law defines electric bicycles as “electric-assisted bicycles.” The E-bike must have two or three fully operational pedals for human propulsion, the motor must be no more than 1,000 watts and the device must be designed to have a maximum speed of 20 mph.

E-bikes are allowed on roadways and limited-access highways, bike lanes, bike paths and multi-purpose paths. Local jurisdictions can modify these and restrict use when necessary. It is illegal to use electric bikes on sidewalks in Washington State, according to RCW 46.61.710. Localities like King County have also chosen to outlaw E-bikes on trails as well.

No driver’s license is needed for an electric bike if the operator is at least 16 years of age. Persons under 16 may not operate an electric-assisted bicycle.

King County and the city of Seattle require bicyclists to wear helmets while riding in public, though these laws are rarely enforced. The violation for not wearing a bicycle helmet is a civil infraction (ticket) and the base fine is $30. There are additional court costs of $51 added to the base fine amount, totaling $81.

Electric Bike Accidents In Washington State

E-bike accidents happen just like any other bicycle accident. But due to the differences in speed and handling, circumstances may arise where a bicyclist, pedestrian or automobile driver is caught by surprise. These electric bikes accelerate quicker than regular human-powered bikes, which may lead to an accident.

If you’ve found yourself involved in an electric bicycle accident, various parties can be held liable for damages. Of course, this depends on the facts surrounding the incident. Liable parties may include:

  • Motor vehicle drivers
  • Other bicyclists
  • Pedestrians
  • Electric bicycle manufacturers or distributors

Accident lawsuits are typically based on negligence or recklessness. Victims that pursue an electric bike lawsuit usually receive monetary damages. The award may allow the injured party to recover losses caused by the accident, including hospital bills, medical costs, rehabilitation and pain and suffering.

Contact An Attorney After An Accident

If you or a loved one has been hit while riding an electric bike, contact the Washington State bike accident attorneys at Davis Law Group, P.S., today for a free case evaluation. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page to get started.

Image courtesy of LimeBike

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