Arizona Electric Bicycle Legislation (bill died)

An ebike bill PASSED in 2018: HB2652. Below info is for historical purposes…

[5/10/2017; bill stalled. Never got a House floor vote]
[Current Status as of 3/1/2017: passed the Senate by wide margins, also passed House T&I Committee but they implied it would need to be amended to pass the floor; as of 3/19 it’s not passed the house; see below ]
ca-e-bike-croppedAs of spring 2017 there is an e-bike bill working its way through the legislature.  SB1273  (2017, 53rd/1st Regular session). This bill, if passed, would address some or all of the confusion documented at length in these pages, at least for e-bikes. The bill’s prime sponsor is Bob Worsley (R-Mesa), is senate president so I’d have to assume it’s going to pass ; [correction, Yarborough is, so I have no idea how i got that wrong] and is moving fast, as of the time of this writing (early February 2017) it has already passed the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee unanimously with little debate. Besides being senate president,  Worsley is the chairperson of the senate Transp committee. I have no idea about the house but there’s little apparently standing in the bill’s way. 

This is not coincidentally  similar to legislation passed in California in 2015, and pushed by People For Bikes along with the e-bike industry, so start there for background.

Electric bikes currently fall under the category of what Arizona calls a Motorized Bicycle at the state level. There are a number of gotchas involved, which have been copiously documented on these pages, e.g. start here. The main gotcha revolves around a motorized bicyclist “operating at” 20mph or over — he will unwittingly find himself needing a drivers license, insurance and registration; or at least according to some police, resulting in impoundment and enormous fines.

The bill as it’s currently introduced leaves all these problems in place for gas-powered motorized bicycles. (and ought to be fixed!) But at least it does fix the problem for e-bike users, including the “fast” (up to 28mph) e-bikes! Which, by the way, I would have safety concerns about — e.g. 28mph in most bike lanes is too fast, and would raise the risk of motorist turning/crossing errors unacceptably, in my opinion.

SB1273 Electric Bicycles

SB1273  (2017, 53rd/1st Regular session) is pretty straightforward.

  • It defines Class 1,  2, and class 3  e-bikes (a la CA’s Type system); max assist speed of 20, 20, and 28mph respectively.
  • an e-bike operator is made equivalent to a bicyclist
  • explicitly states e-bikes are NOT motor vehicles.
  • No insurance, license, or registration required to use.
  • By default, Class 1 & 2 allowed, and Class 3 prohibited on paths — local authority can override
  • Class 3 users must wear helmet (this is a little strange)(this may get amended in House version, see comments below about House 3/1 hearing)
  • Class 3 operators must be at least 16 years old, but no license is required (this is a little strange).
  • Class 3  requires a speedometer
  • Moped and Motor-driven cycles CANNOT be e-bikes by definition
  • Various labeling regulations and CFR conformance.
  • Unclear (to me) if or how DIY e-bike kits fit in???

The new section will be 28-819.

Gas-powered vs. e-bike inconsistencies

It seems to have come straight from industry lobbyists — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However,since the ebike people presumably didn’t care about existing (gas-powered) motorized bicycles and mopeds; The proposed law would open up large inconsistencies between ebikes and existing law; e.g. mopeds (which are defined at only up to 25mph) operators require DL, insurance, registration; e-bikes, even the 28mph ones, require none of that. And mopeds are banned from bike lanes, whereas ebikes are not.

And of course the 800-lb gorilla problem for motorized bikes “operated at” (the bad language in the existing motorized bicycle law) 20mph or above still exists.

Tempe Ordinance Jan 2017

The City of Tempe already/recently passed an ordinance in Janury 2017 concerning e-bikes. It’s not clear to me how certain pieces of that would fit together.

How a Bill Becomes Law?

Passed the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee hearing 1/31/2017 unanimously with little debate. One member said she hates noisey motorized bicycles (presumably she’s hearing gasoline powered ones; and wants Brophy-McGee to look into putting mufflers on the ebike). Anyway, the hearing was very short; I thought it was sortof odd there was nobody from industry (or even commercial interests, like local e-bike shops?) to speak on it.Passed the Senate Trans committee 7-0 with little discussion; also passed full Senate by wide margins.

In House T&I committee hearing 3/1/2017, although passed by wide margin (7-1), it was implied it would have to amended to make the helmet requirement consistent with motorcycle helmet requirements; which are required only for young operators of motorcycles (or motor-driven cycles/motorscooters). (and in case you were wondering, AZ has no helmet requirements on bicycle riders). There was no mention, and probably nobody there knows, about the many inconsistencies between the existing moped/motorized bike laws and these proposals.

There was this slightly strange comment/question in the 3/1 hearing, from Chairperson Noel Campbell

Campbell: These bicycles would not be allowed on city streets, or anyplace you would need a drivers license, is that correct?

Worsley: I believe the most powerful ones could use the streets…

It makes me wonder if Rep Campbell (or Sen Worsley, for that matter) understands that bicyclists are permitted (actually, they have a right to) ride on streets.


5 thoughts on “Arizona Electric Bicycle Legislation (bill died)”

  1. Moped and Motor-driven cycles CANNOT be e-bikes by definition.

    this is going to be interesting for mine. an ebike (chinese piece of _ _ _ _ sold by phoenix produce 522 S Central …) that never worked right) which is now powered by a rear mounted motor that just happens to be a moped motor. am i breaking all three rules?the ebike part is inoperable, no batteries. to be a moped the pedals are incorporated into the motor + exceeds 20 mph. it has pedals making it a bicycle. i have passed and sat next to at lights many patrol car. what happen with kc’s kustom’s patition to change laws?

  2. Who and how can I get involved to help show the positive side of these bicycles ? The use for cheap alternative transportation is becoming a thing and we need to address it.

  3. updated 4/14/2017: the ebike bill which has already passed the senate, is moving toward a full House vote (soon?).

    There are two pending amendments on the House floor, both only involving Class 3 (the 28mph version of ebike) — the universal helmet requirement will be weakened to apply only to < 18 years old, this would make it consistent with AZ's motorcycle helmet rules, i believe; and a separate amendment would make the class 3 operator require a (any type of) driver's license, which would in that respect make it consistent with AZ's moped rules.
    Assuming it passes with any amendments, it would have to go back to the Senate for re-voting (or whatever they call it); in all likelihood, the Senate would simply adopt the House’s version. There seems to be no resistance to this bill.

    Here’s a news tidbit Bike Retailer news:
    Where they mention, as expected, that “BPSA (Bicycle Product Suppliers Association) and PeopleForBikes are actively working on e-bike bills in Arizona, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut and New York”; yet i can’t find anything like that under lobbying organizations, should show up as a PPB name, the search is permissive, but nothing relevant shows up for “bike” “bicycle” “BPSA” “people” or “peopleforbikes”. The rules about lobbying are kindof complex, so who knows?

  4. I am curious as to the power limit for electric motors on bikes. The gas engines seem to be limited to 48cc but I can’t find anything on any wattage restrictions. Thank you.

    Hi Tom,
    It’s in there, “less than 750Watts”. That’s probably not coincidentally consistent with the old CPSC regulations to meet their definition of low speed electric bicycle. Here’s the language from the failed AZ bill:


  5. So, back to the 799 pound gorilla, what is the law regarding operation a bicycle with a gasoline engine kit installed? driver license, insurance, registration??? Does it depend on maximum speed? engine size?

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