If you’ve lived in Oregon for any length of time then you know that Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the state, and possibly even the country. And, if you’ve been paying attention to the cyclists on the roadways recently, you have probably noticed that electric assisted bicycles (aka electric bikes or e-bikes) are more prevalent than ever. Whether you’re interested in trying one out for yourself or you encounter them on your daily commute, it’s important to be aware of the laws governing e-bikes in our state so you can be safe and knowledgeable of your rights. Read on to learn more from Portland bicycle accident attorney Paul Galm.
E-bikes are still currently designated as bicycles under Oregon Law, but the way they operate distinguishes them from a classic bicycle. These bikes are defined by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and ORS 801.258 to have “fully operative pedals for human propulsion and an electric motor with power output not more than 1,000 watts.” The maximum capable speed for electric bikes is listed at 20 MPH, but Oregon does not designate a max allowed speed (this may change in the future as technology improves and the bikes can go faster). Riders are required by law to use their bike lights when visibility is limited.
Riders must be 16 years of age or older and are not required to have a license, registration, or insurance. Per the helmet law for regular bicycles, which states that riders 16 and over do not have to wear helmets, e-bike riders are also exempt from having to wear helmets if they so choose.
Portland bicycle attorneys advise bicyclists who are considering purchasing, renting, or riding an electric bike to be fully aware of the laws and statutes governing such use on Oregon’s roads. As always, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law. Per ORS 814.410, e-bikes cannot be operated on sidewalks. They can, however, be used on bike paths/lanes and in crosswalks. This makes them ideal for both the daily commute and recreational use.
Bicycle accident lawyers say that many riders are unaware that they can be charged with DUIIs, just like non-motorized bicyclists can be. For your own personal injury protection, you should not ride an e-bike while intoxicated or impaired.
Although electric bikes are just now becoming mainstream in Portland, it’s likely that their popularity will soar in the coming years. We will continue to see the trend of people converting their standard bicycles into e-bikes as they learn more about the process and as bike shops offer the service more readily. Perhaps we’ll even see a rideshare program for e-bikes, similar to the Biketown bikeshare program that’s flourishing in our fair city.
If you have questions about riding e-bikes in Oregon or would like to schedule a free consultation to discuss an accident you were involved in, contact Portland personal injury attorney Paul Galm today.