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Electric Bikes And The Law In Seattle

Updated on: 11/22/2019

limebike e-bike

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 750 watts. LimeBike's E-bikes have a top speed of about 15 mph and a 250-watt motor.

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.

A new law, Senate Bill 6434, puts bicycles into three categories and eliminates a minimum-age requirement for the slower E-bikes. Class 1 and 2 E-bikes can operate on “shared-use path or any part of a highway designated for the use of bicycles."

Class 1 Bicycle

The motor provides assistance when a rider is pedaling and stops assisting when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph.

Class 2 Bicycle

The motor can propel the bicycle without pedaling but does not assist when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph.

Class 3 Bicycle

The motor assists when the rider is pedaling and stops when the bicycle reaches a speed of 28 mph. It also has a speedometer.

Riders of Class 3 E-bikes must be at least 16 years old. There is no age restriction on slower E-bikes. 

Class 3 E-bikes are not allowed on shared-use paths like sidewalks and bike trails — unless a local jurisdiction allows it. 

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 A Bicycle Accident

If you or a loved one has been hit while riding an electric bike, contact the Washington bicycle 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

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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