Police - questioning the power rating of your E-bike? or Ticketing you?

Tom@WashDC

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Loudoun County, VA.
Has anyone been questioned or confronted by local police, or federal park police about the power rating of your bike? Or your operating speed, or classification? If "yes", please tell us about it.
 
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No, never in the US, not me, not anyone I've seen here, on streets at least. (Parklands could be different.)

Clearly you want to ride an illegal Class 3 in DC sans moped registration.
 
No, I was just curious if it is actually a "thing" yet, if ever.

I have a class 3, 750W, perfectly legal in DC so long as the throttle doesn't exceed 20 mph.

I also have 1600W mid drive that I would never ride on public roads or property even though it has a 250W sticker on it.
 
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Once when I riding my bike on the bike lane in Yellowstone national park, I was fined $150.
E-bikes are legal to ride on roads in many of the national parks but I was riding at 25mph and the ranger must have followed me for about 5 miles and then he pulled me over and asked how I was going so fast.
The whole bike lane was empty and I was trying to reach the hotel at the other end before the sunset but he did not care and nor did he understand anything about E-bikes. He thought I was on some sort of motorcycle.

Most of my other experiences have been very positive. But, sometimes you do come across people who have no clue and in unfortunate circumstances like mine, riders may have to pay some fine.

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I'm sure you will find selective enforcement in localities where the powers-that-be are uptight about ebikes. For example, I have ridden down in Ft Meyers, FL, and across the big bridge to Sanibel Island, Now I hear only class 1 allowed in the island, and no ebikes on the sidewalk in Ft. Meyers.
 
No, I was just curious if it is actually a "thing" yet, if ever.

I have a class 3, 750W, perfectly legal in DC so long as the throttle doesn't exceed 20 mph.

I also have 1600W mid drive that I would never ride on public roads or property even though it has a 250W sticker on it.
Class 3s are not legal in DC unless you register them as a moped.

Class 3 in most states means no throttle, as well. (There's some SE state, maybe SC, where Class 3 may have a throttle)
 
Once when I riding my bike on the bike lane in Yellowstone national park, I was fined $150.
E-bikes are legal to ride on roads in many of the national parks but I was riding at 25mph and the ranger must have followed me for about 5 miles and then he pulled me over and asked how I was going so fast.
The whole bike lane was empty and I was trying to reach the hotel at the other end before the sunset but he did not care and nor did he understand anything about E-bikes. He thought I was on some sort of motorcycle.

Most of my other experiences have been very positive. But, sometimes you do come across people who have no clue and in unfortunate circumstances like mine, riders may have to pay some fine.

View attachment 79300

I think this would be legal now, no?

For others: https://www.sweetwaternow.com/wyomi...electric bicycle equipped,of 28 miles an hour.
 
Class 3s are not legal in DC unless you register them as a moped.

Class 3 in most states means no throttle, as well. (There's some SE state, maybe SC, where Class 3 may have a throttle)
Asher, thank you for the response but your post does not refer to any actual D.C. regulations or statutes that are current law.

While the local D.C. politicians may be "proposing, studying, or introducing legislation", the current D.C. Government code has been simplified and does not classify E-bikes except by "unassisted operating speed". If you operate an e-bike at unassisted speeds in a range of 21-30 mph, it is classified as a "motor driven cycle" and as such it must be registered and is not permitted on the side walk or the bike lanes. If it is operated at speeds in excess of 30 mph it is classified as a "motorcycle" and must be registered and cannot be driven in the bike lanes or side walks.

No kind of bike may be driven on the side walk in the designated Business District of Washington D.C. (see pdf)

Here is the link to the D.C. DMV Government page on Non-Traditional Motor Vehicles and DC Law. They provide a six page pdf explaining the differences, restrictions, and DC code citations.

If you enter the federal lands in DC, such as the National Mall, or various monument grounds, you cannot operate an E-bike with 750 or more watts, nor with throttle-only capabilities in excess of 20 mph.

Asher, I may be wrong on this, but I've scoured the D.C. code and cannot find any references to "Class III" E-bikes.
 

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Funny timing for this topic, since I was pulled over riding yesterday by a Pennsylvania State Trooper. I was out riding on local suburban roads, and we've been dealing with quite a bit of melting snow, so yesterday was the first day I could really safely ride since the snow had receded from the edge of the roads. Anyway, I passed the Trooper once while he was issuing a ticket to the driver of a car he'd pulled over. About 20 minutes later, I noticed a long line of cars behind me in my rear-view and it startled me as the lead car was very close and just NOT passing despite the oncoming lane being clear. It turns out the 2nd or 3rd car in the line behind me was the same Trooper and he must have noticed my bike wiggle as I became startled at the realization that so many cars were held up behind me and this one car. He passed along with the other cars and when I rounded the next bend he had pulled into a driveway and motioned for me to stop and come over. I was sure he was going to ask about the bike and it's motor, but he just said that he'd been following behind me for a distance to make sure other cars were making safe passes around me. Totally caught me off guard.....but I gave him a big thanks and went on my way. I don't even think he gave my bike a second look or any consideration that it was an e-bike.
 
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Once when I riding my bike on the bike lane in Yellowstone national park, I was fined $150.
E-bikes are legal to ride on roads in many of the national parks but I was riding at 25mph and the ranger must have followed me for about 5 miles and then he pulled me over and asked how I was going so fast.
The whole bike lane was empty and I was trying to reach the hotel at the other end before the sunset but he did not care and nor did he understand anything about E-bikes. He thought I was on some sort of motorcycle.

Most of my other experiences have been very positive. But, sometimes you do come across people who have no clue and in unfortunate circumstances like mine, riders may have to pay some fine

Only in state parks, not federal or BLM lands
 
I've had a couple of encounters, one where a county Sheriff at a trailhead said "I sure hope you know the rules about e-bikes on this trail." Which I did and there was no further issue.

The others have more been situation where officers were genuinely curious about my bike and so I politely asked their questions and continued on my way.

I think where you are going to get into real trouble is if you are in an accident. Even if you are not at fault you can be one hundred percent certain that insurance isn't going to pay if they can figure out a way not to, and arguing that your e-bike was not street legal or not permitted in the location where the accident happened would be a sure-fire way to get out of paying you.
 
I've had a couple of encounters, one where a county Sheriff at a trailhead said "I sure hope you know the rules about e-bikes on this trail." Which I did and there was no further issue.

The others have more been situation where officers were genuinely curious about my bike and so I politely asked their questions and continued on my way.

I think where you are going to get into real trouble is if you are in an accident. Even if you are not at fault you can be one hundred percent certain that insurance isn't going to pay if they can figure out a way not to, and arguing that your e-bike was not street legal or not permitted in the location where the accident happened would be a sure-fire way to get out of paying you.
Excellent point.
 
Asher, thank you for the response but your post does not refer to any actual D.C. regulations or statutes that are current law.

While the local D.C. politicians may be "proposing, studying, or introducing legislation", the current D.C. Government code has been simplified and does not classify E-bikes except by "unassisted operating speed". If you operate an e-bike at unassisted speeds in a range of 21-30 mph, it is classified as a "motor driven cycle" and as such it must be registered and is not permitted on the side walk or the bike lanes. If it is operated at speeds in excess of 30 mph it is classified as a "motorcycle" and must be registered and cannot be driven in the bike lanes or side walks.

No kind of bike may be driven on the side walk in the designated Business District of Washington D.C. (see pdf)

Here is the link to the D.C. DMV Government page on Non-Traditional Motor Vehicles and DC Law. They provide a six page pdf explaining the differences, restrictions, and DC code citations.

If you enter the federal lands in DC, such as the National Mall, or various monument grounds, you cannot operate an E-bike with 750 or more watts, nor with throttle-only capabilities in excess of 20 mph.

Asher, I may be wrong on this, but I've scoured the D.C. code and cannot find any references to "Class III" E-bikes.
See this part, especially the last bolded sentence. The Class 3 is assisted, but since it goes above 20 mph, it gets classed as a motor driven cycle, not a motorized bicycle.

See this post from Dewey:

"Class 3 ebikes remain subject to the "Motor Driven Cycle" definition. Class 1 and 2 ebikes continue to fall under the "Motorized Bicycle" definition that has "a motor incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground"."

 

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most interactions have been in National Parks and regional rail-trails - all positive, I think mostly because the ones I've interacted with know that their agency will be getting E_Bikes in their fleet pending evaluation and bidding process and post covid supply chain improvements.
 
The UK is 250w!! Honestly!!

My gran could probably pass one on her Zimmer frame and I’m sure my mum has hoovers with bigger motors. She obviously drives them indoors!! It’s not even funny!!
 
See this part, especially the last bolded sentence. The Class 3 is assisted, but since it goes above 20 mph, it gets classed as a motor driven cycle, not a motorized bicycle.

See this post from Dewey:

"Class 3 ebikes remain subject to the "Motor Driven Cycle" definition. Class 1 and 2 ebikes continue to fall under the "Motorized Bicycle" definition that has "a motor incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground"."

I see the point. So here is an interesting conundrum, I think, as I have not thought it through yet so please bear with me.

Most "manufactured" bikes have a motor that is "fully capable' of propelling the bike faster than 20 mph, but they may be limited by the firmware or the controller. Strictly speaking those bikes have motors that do not meet the standard of "incapable of propelling the device" faster than 20 mph. The motor/controller/firmware has been "dialed" back.

My Aventon rear hub motor can only propel my bike to 20 mph under throttle. I could modify the controller or firmware to make it faster under full throttle.

My DIY bike ("potentially" 1600W) has the "potential" to go very fast but I have it limited by the software to go only 20 mph under full throttle or PAS.

It will be interesting to see how the regulations evolve since I believe most class 1,2, or 3 E-bikes have a motor with more "potential" than 20mph.

Thanks for all the insight.
 
Has anyone been questioned or confronted by local police, or federal park police about the power rating of your bike? Or your operating speed, or classification? If "yes", please tell us about it.
A river trail I like to ride had a couple of park rangers standing by the entrance once. They asked me if my bike was an ebike ... I was on a Juiced Scrambler at the time, so I would have thought that was fairly obvious 😂

Anyway, I said "yes", they said "ebikes aren't allowed on this trail", I said "ok" and turned around and found somewhere else to ride. Looking back I wish I would have asked them some questions about why not, if it included all classes of ebikes, that sort of thing. It's a multi-use paved trail with plenty of space and visibility, and a dedicated walking (dirt) trail on the side to boot. Probably would have been a great opportunity to educate them a bit on the topic.
 
I see the point. So here is an interesting conundrum, I think, as I have not thought it through yet so please bear with me.

Most "manufactured" bikes have a motor that is "fully capable' of propelling the bike faster than 20 mph, but they may be limited by the firmware or the controller. Strictly speaking those bikes have motors that do not meet the standard of "incapable of propelling the device" faster than 20 mph. The motor/controller/firmware has been "dialed" back.

My Aventon rear hub motor can only propel my bike to 20 mph under throttle. I could modify the controller or firmware to make it faster under full throttle.

My DIY bike ("potentially" 1600W) has the "potential" to go very fast but I have it limited by the software to go only 20 mph under full throttle or PAS.

It will be interesting to see how the regulations evolve since I believe most class 1,2, or 3 E-bikes have a motor with more "potential" than 20mph.

Thanks for all the insight.
Lol man you're lawyering this to death, just take the L(oss). Capability refers to what the motor could do with the firmware applied. The law also doesn't specify the weight of the rider, the humidity, the ground surface, coefficient of resistance, the wind speed or any number of factors that might influence speed...

I'm not telling you to obey the law, just what the law is.
 
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