Electric bicycles are a great option when it comes to commuting around the Valley. Not only can you get to your destination faster than a traditional bike, but you can also travel farther while reducing the impact on the environment. Use an e-bike for fun or a sweat-free ride to work, it’s your choice as you can use the pedal assist, throttle, or ride like a standard bike.
No matter how you choose to use your e-bike, there are some rules and etiquette that riders need to understand when hitting the Valley streets.
Arizona defines an e-bike as a bicycle equipped with operable pedals and a motor of fewer than 750 watts that operates at speeds slower than 20 mph. Electric bikes do not need registration or licensing, but all riders must have state-issued ID in their possession while riding on city roadways.
Arizona laws on class 1 and class 2 electric bicycles allow for use in any bike lanes and bike paths. Class 3 electric bikes that operate at speeds of 20 mph to 28 mph may need registration for legal use on roads and through-fares. Contact your local MVD to see if your Class 3 bike needs registration.
When riding your e-bike, always ride with the flow of traffic. In nearly all circumstances e-bike riders need to follow the same rule as motor vehicles. This means riding the electric bike on the right side of the road, yielding to pedestrians and signaling any turns. Riding with the flow of traffic allows you to be visible to other drivers and obey traffic laws.
Since you are riding on a public roadway with other vehicles, the rider must follow all the same traffic signals and signs as other vehicles on the road. It is against the law to ride a bike through a stop sign, red light or pass through a crosswalk when pedestrians are crossing.
The best way to stay safe on the road is by knowing all the traffic signs and signals before riding an e-bike on a public road. Licensed drivers already know how to follow all road signals, but unlicensed e-bike riders may need a crash course before taking the bike out on the street. Research signs and signals online or visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s manual.
When riding an electric bicycle, it is always a smart idea to take extra precautions while on the road. Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing. If the bike has preinstalled lights on the front and rear use them. If not, buy after-market lights and install them yourself.
Besides accessories and clothing, it is important to stay alert while riding on the road with other vehicles. Use hand signals to communicate with other drivers. Remember, drivers may not be expecting a bike to be traveling at fast speeds.
Electric bikes are faster than regular bikes. So, be courteous and keep your speed in check when riding on city streets. When passing other cyclists or pedestrians use a bell to warn them and let them know which side you are passing on.
Most local pathways in the Phoenix area allow e-bikes. Look for signs at trailheads and paths that designate the use of motorized vehicles. When unsure if a pathway or trail allows e-bikes, contact the local land management agency for that city.
Arizona state parks only allow electric bikes on state park roadways and trails designated for motorized use. Always contact the Arizona State Parks and Trails Department for the most up-to-date information.
The state of Arizona considers electric bikes motorized vehicles when operating in national parks. E-bikes only have access to motorized trails in these areas. Contact the U.S. Forest Service Southwestern Regional Officer or the BLM Arizona State Office for a list of e-bike certified trails and park regulations.
E-bikes are an efficient way to get around town. Even though e-bikes can zoom in and out of traffic riders must remember that they still have to follow the rules of the road. Following these simple rules allow e-bike riders to stay safe and prevent potential accidents on Valley roadways.
Editor’s note: Joey Hancock is a freelance writer for Ebike Press a resource dedicated to electric bicycle enthusiasts. He resides in Tempe and graduated from Arizona State University. He has written for multiple publications throughout southern Arizona and the Valley on a variety of topics.
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