An electric-assisted bicycle (e-bike) is a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The motor must have a power output of no more than 750 watts and the e-bike must meet the requirements of one of the three following classifications:
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are directed to undergo a public process to collect information related to e-bike use on natural surface trails and roads that are limited to non-motorized use to determine where e-bike operation may occur and which classes of e-bikes are acceptable on the roads and trails under the agencies' management. The public process engaged in by the DNR and the WDFW related to e-bikes and recreational trails must include a consideration of opportunities to improve awareness of applicable trail rules and trail etiquette among all classes of trail users.
The public process must include, at a minimum, input from a list of interested parties and user groups. The WDFW and the DNR must report their findings to the Legislature by September 30, 2022.
Until June 30, 2023, or until legislation is enacted or rules are adopted related to the use of e-bikes on nonmotorized natural surface trails and closed roads on lands managed by the DNR and by the WDFW, whichever is earlier, the DNR and the WDFW must allow persons who possess a current parking placard for persons with disabilities, issued by the Department of Transportation, to use class 1 and class 2 e-bikes on all nonmotorized natural surface trails and closed roads on which bicycles are allowed.
(In support) It is good to expand the opportunity to ride e-bikes to areas where they are not currently used. The WDFW and the DNR are reviewing their rules which define e-bikes as being motorized. It is important to include language to specify that e-bikes are not motorized vehicles.
It is important for everyone to have an opportunity to access the outdoors. Any action to allow e-bikes on public lands must be based on science and a broad public input process.
Many trails on lands managed by the DNR and the WDFW are open to multiple uses. Electric-assisted bicycle technology can expand outdoor access but, it is not yet clear how e-bikes will impact other users or long-term trail maintenance needs. The DNR is doing an e-bike pilot project near Darrington. A public process is needed, and the bill calls for that. The current timeline for the process is very fast; pushing the deadline for the report to September 30, 2022, would allow a more comprehensive, thorough process. The agencies could present initial findings by the current deadline, but more in-depth work at the local level would require more time.
The bill begins a much needed public process to determine where e-bikes may ride. The bill will encourage stakeholder feedback to arrive at clear and consistent guidance for a popular technology. The bill will also address consumer confusion regarding where e-bikes can and cannot go. It would be good to limit the process to trails and roads that are already open to bicycles and be clear that there is not an attempt to expand into trails and roads that are not open to bikes currently.
(Other) There is a need to clarify the agencies' positions on e-bikes. Recreation has to be compatible with conservation and other uses. There are concerns about the timeline for the public process. The success of the bill hinges on the quality of the stakeholder process. The current timeline does not allow much time for a process that will have to look at thousands of miles of roads.
The DNR and the WDFW's answer to everything is to say "no." There needs to be amendments to the bill. The request under the bill is that e-bikes simply be allowed wherever mountain bikes are allowed. Electric-assisted bicycles do comparatively little damage compared to clearcuts. A road that can handle a logging truck can handle an e-bike. There is no difference in safety between a mountain bike and an e-bike. There is a lack of access for people with disabilities to recreate outdoors in Washington.