Posted by Gregory Maassen on December 5, 2021 - Latest revision December 6, 2021  Reading time: minutes remaining

Why E-bike Lovers Love Virginia

You may have seen the lovely "Love Virginia" sign when you enter the Commonwealth of Virginia.

At E-bike Lovers, we share the love with Virginia as the state is one of the most e-bike friendly jurisdictions in the United States. Electric power-assisted bicycles may be ridden on shared-use paths or sidewalks unless prohibited by the locality or facility owner.

Motorists must approach and pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed at least three feet to the bicyclist's left. If the lane is not wide enough to allow three feet of space, motorists must change lanes to pass. 

Let's hope that Virginia will also pass the Idaho Stop. We will keep an eye on developments in our favorite e-bike friendly state.

What is an e-bike in Virginia?

"Electric power-assisted bicycle" means a vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is equipped with (i) pedals that allow propulsion by human power, (ii) a seat for the use of the rider, and (iii) an electric motor with an input of no more than 750 watts."

Operators must be at least 14 years old or be under the supervision of someone at least 18 years old. An electric power-assisted bicycle shall be considered a vehicle when operated on a highway. Several jurisdictions in Virginia require that every person fourteen years of age or younger wear a protective helmet. Bicyclists riding class 3 electric power-assisted bicycles must wear a helmet regardless of age.

Generally, the laws for the operation of electric power-assisted bicycles are similar to the operation of bicycles.

Sources: Virginia Code section ยง46.2.

Is an E-bike a Motorized Vehicle?

You may see signs saying that motorized vehicles are not permitted on a biking path. Does this mean that under state law, e-biking is not allowed?

No motorized vehicles are allowed on Virginia Run Community property. We are not certain what the definition is of a motorized vehicle in this case as the land is privately owned.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on this trail on Virginia Run Community property. We are not certain what the definition is of a motorized vehicle in this case as the land is privately owned.

Under state law, an e-bike is not a motorcycle and not a motorized vehicle: Any device "defined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, moped, or personal delivery device shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle."

Where are you Allowed to E-bike?

Class 1, 2, and 3 electric power-assisted bicycles are allowed on all VDOT owned shared use paths. Other jurisdictions in Virginia may have additional requirements.

The Club Run Stream Valley is now accessible by e-bike as it is managed by the Fairfax Country Part Authority. It is a beautiful area with fair weather creek crossings and bridges.

The Club Run Stream Valley is now accessible by e-bike as it is managed by the Fairfax Country Park Authority. It is a beautiful area with fair-weather creek crossings and bridges.

For example. NOVA Parks currently defines e-bikes as "electric power-assisted bicycles" that have a top-powered speed of 20 mph (classes 1 and 2 e-bikes), although this may change. NOVA Parks' regulations and guidelines were developed under the old law and class 3 e-bikes are now allowed on NOVA Park trails.

Electric-assist bikes are not coming, they are here ... (They) create an inclusive environment from the recreation perspective. People from all ages and abilities are being reintroduced to riding ... As a transportation option, people are riding further and riding more often if they have an e-bike.

Chris Pauley

Director of Park Operations, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks)

NOVA Parks has been a pioneer in allowing e-bikes on its trails. The W&OD trail is a popular destination for e-bikers. 

E-bike Classification

Electric power-assisted bicycles are classified as follows in Virginia:

  • "Class one" means an electric power-assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour;
  • "Class two" means an electric power-assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour; and
  • "Class three" means an electric power-assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.
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