Arkansas Becomes Fifth State to Pass E-Bike Legislation

HB 2185 paves the way for transportation alternatives in the Natural State.

HB 2185 paves the way for transportation alternatives in the Natural State.

BENTONVILLE—A bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives G. Hodges (R), McCollum (R), and Sabin (D) and Senator Hester (R) was signed into law last week, resulting in the creation of the Electric Bicycle Act, (#956) which defines three official classes of e-bikes and regulates their use and sale.

In order to qualify as an e-bike (as opposed to a moped or dirtbike or the like), the bike must have pedals and a motor capable of putting out no more than 750 watts.

  • Class 1 - an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the operator is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20mph
  • Class 2 - an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the e-bike and that is incapable of providing assistance when the e-bike reaches 20mph
  • Class 3 - an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the operator is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28mph

Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes will be allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed, whereas Class 3 e-bikes will only be allowed on roadways (except in special circumstances).

The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and PeopleForBikes played a key role in working with legislators to draft the bill, which closely resembles legislation passed in California in 2015. Paxton Roberts, Executive Director of BikeNWA, testified in support of HB 2185 during a meeting of the Arkansas House Transportation Committee last month.

“We’re thrilled that our legislators share our vision to make Arkansas a more bicycle-friendly state. Policies like this pave the way for the Natural State to be a leader for bicycling,” Roberts said after the bill was passed. “E-bikes will empower Arkansans of all abilities to integrate bicycling into their daily lives and go even farther afield to discover more of what Northwest Arkansas has to offer. We look forward to working with local communities to ensure the smooth assimilation of e-bikes into our transportation ecosystem.”