Colorado and Arkansas join the e-bike bill party

Words by Jeffrey Stern

Joining California, Tennessee and Utah, Colorado and Arkansas became the fourth and fifth states respectively to define the three different classes of electric-assist bikes.

Many e-bike manufacturers are pushing for the classification system as a way to standardize regulation in the industry because of the gray area in which these bikes sit. In some states, they are technically illegal.

Earlier this year, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said, “As e-bikes grow in both the commuter bike space as well as the mountain biking arena, we wanted to be sure the thought leadership for this segment of the industry resided in Colorado.”

By signing House Bill 17-1151, the state of Colorado is doing just that. The bill helps define the various levels of e-bike assistance depending on whether the electric motor fixed to the bike assists while pedaling and the top speed that can be reached.

Although only applicable to e-bikes ridden on the roads and bike paths, the new state law requires all e-bike manufacturers to label their bikes in such a way that allows local government agencies to identify the various classes. The new bill does not provide management of e-bikes ridden on mountain bike trails throughout the state.

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Section one of HB 17-1151 defines the three classes based on top speed as well as when the motor assists the rider—while pedaling or independently. Section four requires all e-bikes to comply with the federal consumer product safety commission, lays out the labeling obligation of the three classes for manufacturers and prohibits users from modifying their motors without acquiring the appropriate label. The last section of the bill speaks to the helmet requirement for all riders younger than 18 and also prohibits a person under the age of 16 from riding a class three e-bike, except as a passenger.

This is also the section of the bill that gives local government agencies the authority to “allow or prohibit the use of specified classes of electrical assisted bicycles on pedestrian paths and bike paths.”

The Arkansas HB2185 is similar in structure to Colorado’s bill. PeopleForBikes, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and many local retailers came out in strong support of both bills and continue to work hard on legislation in other states. Larry Pizzi, head of the BPSA’s e-bike committee told Bicycle Retailer, “At long last e-bikes are really gaining the momentum we need them to. This is more great news on the BPSA and PeopleForBikes e-bike front. Colorado is really important. The bill got tremendous support there. We’re stoked we can put one more important state in the bag.”

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Photo: Leslie Kehmeier

Reports suggest that at least another half-dozen states have bills in progress including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin.

For more information on e-bike laws in your state, visit PeopleForBikes.org/e-bikes.

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