Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are Electric Bikes Illegal in Arlington? @arlingtonva @bikearlington #bikedc

Are electric bicycles illegal in Arlington?  

Electric bicycles are cool hybrids between the human engine and an electric booster.  An electric motor goes in the hub of your bike, a rechargeable battery goes on the back rack, and a throttle goes on the handle bar.  Need a little boost to make it up the hill, or want to make it to work without getting completely sweaty?  Just press the throttle and while you are pedalling, the electric motor will kick in and motivate that bike forward with you. Dont need any help at all? The electric motor will kick off and you can enjoy the ride.

At the last Bike to Work Day, electric bicycles were on display at the Rosslyn station.  Every now and again I see a cyclist with that tell-tale extra large hub.  They all say they love the bikes (as they buzz past me quickly up the Custis Trail hill).  I am seriously considering the electric bike alternative.

But according to this Arlington Parks and Recreation Sign, they are illegal. 

That's a mistake, right!?!  Right??!!  Arlington County Parks and Recreation, can you please clarify that electric bicycles are not in fact prohibited on Arlington trails.


  1. Let's go to the Code!


    Per 14.2-64.1(B), there may very well be a problem. It's not intentional, I think - just unanticipated. There are a few places in the Arlington Code that have some unintended/non-sensical consequences for cycling, but when I've raised this, the feedback that I get is that the County Attorney hasn't historically been interested in what I'd call "Code maintenance."

  2. Here is @Arlingtonva's response: "Motorized vehicles aren't allowed on trails unless authorized like a park/police vehicle. So no motorized bikes or Segways. "

  3. This is from Electric-bikes.com

    "In 2001, the U. S. Congress passed Public Law 107-319 which exempts electric bicycles under 750 watts/20 mph from the definition of a motor vehicle only "For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards...", which means that the manufacturers of these bicycles don't have to meet federal equipment requirements, and are instead governed by the manufacturing requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act. There is no mention of exemption from other federal, state, and local traffic laws, or exemption from the definition of a motor vehicle for other purposes."