Arizona’s Capitol Legalizes Electric Bikes

Phoenix leaders voted Wednesday, March 2 to legalize the use of electric bikes on public streets starting April 1.

In a 7-2 vote, the city council passed Ordinance G-6967. The Downtown Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program Extension and Electric Bicycle Legalization authorized updating the city code allowing residents to ride e-bikes throughout Phoenix city limits. Councilmembers Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring were the only opposing votes to the ordinance.

Councilmember Yassamin Ansari said during the meeting that the ordinance would be a benefit for all people living and working in the downtown Phoenix area.

“The downtown community has been working on advancing micro-mobility for many years and numbers show that people are huge fans of this and proponents,” she said.

The new ordinance allows Class 1 electric bikes to provide pedal assist up to 20 mph and Class 2 electric bikes to allow acceleration with the use of a throttle up to 20 mph on the city’s public right-of-way areas.

As of 2019, the city stated, that e-bike manufacturers and distributors are required to place a sticker on the bike stating the classification, top assisted speed, and motor wattage.

“Bikes and e-bikes can be a means of reducing traffic congestion and lowering our carbon footprint,” according to city documents. “Along with health benefits, e-bikes have the added benefit of making cycling easier and safer with the assistance of an electric motor.”

In the same vote, the council extended the city’s electric scooter program for another year in downtown Phoenix. The city first introduced the scooter program in 2019. The recent vote extends the program until March 2023 allowing vendors to obtain a permit to operate e-scooters within specific regions of downtown Phoenix.

Cindy Gaughan, Senior Director of Phoenix Community Alliance spoke via phone on the benefits of electric bikes being legalized on city streets.

“The extension of the pilot program and electric bicycle legalization will help keep automobile congestion off our downtown streets,” she said. “It will contribute to the city’s climate action plan by reducing automobile emissions as well. We support the extension and adding e-bikes into the ordinance.”