Outdoor recreation in Utah is rapidly electrifying, which state outdoor recreation officials say is resulting in some complications on public lands – claiming an uptick in people illegally riding e-motorcycles on pathways where e-bikes are allowed.
E-bikes fall into one of 3 classes. Utah code outlines these classes as:
- Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph but are throttle-assisted.
- Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
E-motorcycles on the other hand, are heavier and faster than e-bikes and don’t fall into any of the classifications. E-motorcycles are banned from any trails where motor vehicles aren’t allowed. In addition, e-motorcycle riders are required to wear certified helmets and complete an off-highway vehicle education course before riding on public lands in the state because Utah also considers e-motorcycles to be OHVs.
E-Bike Laws for Mountain Trails
When it comes to riding electric bikes on mountain trails, there is a lot of confusion as to what is allowed and what and isn’t. However, local, state, and federal land agencies have yet to draft concise rules governing E-bike usage. Please contact your local and state land management agencies to voice your opinions of E-bikes on Utah trails to help get rules in place.
- LOCAL: Consult your local land management agency.
- STATE: Utah State Parks generally allows class 1 e-bikes on any trial where pedal bikes are allowed. However Class 2 and Class 3 bikes are typically prohibited from trails that don’t allow motorized vehicles. Check with any state parks you plan to visit for more specific details.
- FEDERAL: On federal lands, eMTBs are considered motorized vehicles and have access to motorized trails, but are generally forbidden on bike and hiking trails. However park and division of land is different, so check with the U.S. Forest Service – Intermountain Region at (801) 625-5605 or the BLM Utah State Office at (801) 539-4001 for information before visiting.
Utah law identifies E-bikes as a traditional pedal bike that is propelled by human power and equipped with an assisting motor. To qualify as an e-bike, it must be limited to a 750W (1 Horsepower) motor and have a maximum assisted speed of 20-28mph. Each state & county varies on their rules for e-bike use, however, the basics – especially in Utah – include:
- E-bikes are regulated like bicycles. The same rules of the road apply to both electric and human-powered bicycles.
- E-bikes are not subject to the registration, licensing or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
- E-bikes are allowed on bike paths.
- E-bikes are not allowed on sidewalks.
Utah designates three classes of E-Bikes that categorize E-bikes based on motor size, max assisted speed, and throttle-assist. Each class has it’s own rules associated with it. Make sure you understand those restrictions, including:
- An individual under 16 years of age may not operate a class 3 electric assisted bicycle.
- An individual under 14 years of age may not operate an electric assisted bicycle with the electric motor engaged on any public property, highway, path, or sidewalk unless the individual is under the direct supervision of the individual’s parent or guardian.
- An individual under eight years of age may not operate an electric assisted bicycle with the electric motor engaged on any public property, highway, path, or sidewalk.
In addition, pay attention to the following guidelines for on and off the trail.
- E-bikes can be ridden in any area or trail where OHVs are currently allowed.
- E-bikes are allowed on trails limited to bicycles and non-motorized travel ONLY IF a BLM Manager issues a written decision authorizing E-bike use in accordance with applicable laws and regulations
- Similar to traditional bicycles, E-bikes are not allowed in designated wilderness areas and may not be appropriate for back-country trails.
- Do not ride your eMTB in areas where the local rules are unclear. Ride legally and only on authorized trails. When in doubt, ask your local land manager about access to specific trails. Local land rules change frequently.
- Be a responsible trail user at all times. Be kind, pull over, and say ‘Hello!’
- Beginning January 1, 2017, each Utah-based manufacturer of an electric assisted bicycle and each distributor of an electric assisted bicycle in Utah shall permanently affix a label in a prominent location on the electric assisted bicycle.(b)Each manufacturer and each distributor shall ensure that the label is printed in Arial font, in 9-point type or larger, and includes the:(i)appropriate electric assisted bicycle classification number described in Section (41-6a-102);(ii)top assisted speed; and(iii)wattage of the motor.
- An individual who violates this section is guilty of an infraction.
- A class 2 electric assisted bicycle is subject to the restrictions of Section (41-6a-526).
- A person may not drink any alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle or a class 2 electric assisted bicycle, or while a passenger in a motor vehicle, whether the vehicle is moving, stopped, or parked on any highway or waters of the state.
- A person may not keep, carry, possess, transport, or allow another to keep, carry, possess, or transport in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, or a class 2 electric assisted bicycle, when the vehicle is on any highway or waters of the state, any container which contains any alcoholic beverage if the container has been opened, its seal broken, or the contents of the container partially consumed.
Is My E-Bike Street Legal?
- You are required to have a white headlight, red taillight or reflector, and side reflectors, all visible for at least 500 feet (41-6a-1114) any time you ride earlier than a half hour before sunrise, later than a half hour after sunset, or whenever it is otherwise difficult to make out vehicles 1000 feet away (41-6a-1603).
- You must have brakes capable of stopping you within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement (41-6a-1113).
- You cannot have a siren or whistle on your bike (41-6a-1113).
If you have been injured by an E-Bike, call Injury Smart Law today at 1-866-932-3097.