by Sarah Shaffer

We received a question at WenatcheeOutdoors.org this autumn asking if E-bikes are allowed on the trails up at Echo Ridge. It made some of our WenOut team scratch our heads and made me personally want to know more about E-bikes and if they are allowed on our local trails.

What is an E-bike you may wonder? An E-bike is a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, that has fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor with fewer than 750 watts of power.

ANCHEER Power Plus Electric Mountain Bike with Removable Lithium-Ion Battery, Shimano 21 Speed Shifter. Selling on Amazon for $615.99.

What are the classifications of E-bikes?

Class 1: E-bike that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and which ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 mph.

Class 2: E-bike where the motor may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle (without needing to pedal) and which is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.

Class 3: E-bike where the motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 mph; also equipped with a speedometer.

I contacted the Chelan Ranger District to ask the question, are E-bikes allowed on the trails up at Echo Ridge and if so, which classification of E-bikes? Unfortunately for those using E-bikes, the Chelan Ranger District said no classification of E-bikes are allowed on any of their non-motorized trails.

The Washington State Legislature passed law SB 6434, that states E-bikes cannot be ridden on a trail that is designated as non-motorized and that has a natural surface made by clearing and grading the native soil with no added surfacing materials. This provision in the legislation was amended to help improve interactions with other types of users on soft-surface single track trails. Exceptions may be made by a local authority or agency of this state that has jurisdiction over a particular trail.

It will take due diligence for those E-bike riders wanting to get onto the local non-motorized trails to figure out which one’s allow E-bikes. We suggest you contact our local Ranger Districts to find out more. But when in doubt, you should use the multi-use trails as that is state law.

The E-bike does beg the question, is it truly a motorized system or an assist? Do E-bikes create substantial enough sound to disturb wildlife, or to tear up soft-surface single track trails? Which classification of E-bike if any would be ok on single track soft surface trails? Until E-bikes have become mainstream and the tincture of time has passed, will we know how trail use evolves for these hybrids. Maybe someday their will be E-bike only trails, time will tell.

For more information on E-bikes and our reference on E-bikes was found at Washington Bikes Website.

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3 Responses

  1. AC

    Is it truly a motorized system? That’s the wrong question. It is clearly not a nonmotorized vehicle, which is what the trails in question are designated. They may be quiet, low impact vehicles, but as long as they are providing power that is not coming from the user, they do not belong on nonmotorized trails.

    Reply
    • Dan

      If a trail can be used by a bicycle than an e-bike with the same tires, gears etc should be as well. It allows for older or otherwise compromised riders to enjoy trail riding. If a trail is designated for hiking only then that is a different situation.

      Reply
  2. Scott

    I wonder if they would deny someone use of a trail if they were in a wheelchair, or disabled to the point that an electric bike would be the only reasonable way for someone to enjoy the trail?

    Reply

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