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Washington State/Seattle EPAMD


JimB
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We've talked on this board before about Washington State and Seattle having specific laws regulating EUCs, which are classified as Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (EPAMDs).

After a Metro Transit security guard asked me not to ride on the transit platform, I looked up the law.  (Near as I can tell, he's just assuming they are not allowed.)

SURPRISE 1:  I was surprised to find that by Washington State law, we are required to "give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian".  So basically, in downtown Seattle, I need to be generating an audible signal constantly.  Interesting.

SURPRISE 2:  I also found that a "public path" (like the Burke Gilman trail) allows pedestrians AND BIKES, but EPAMDs are specifically excluded by Seattle law.  This is supported by state law which indicates that they may be regulated in "any area used for recreation, open space, habitat, trails, or conservation purposes".

 

For reference, here is the state law:  http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.710

Mopeds, EPAMDs, electric-assisted bicycles, motorized foot scooters—General requirements and operation.

(7) A person operating an electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD) shall obey all speed limits and shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and human-powered devices at all times. An operator must also give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. Except for the limitations of this subsection, persons operating an EPAMD have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian.
(8) The use of an EPAMD may be regulated in the following circumstances:
(a) A municipality and the department of transportation may prohibit the operation of an EPAMD on public highways within their respective jurisdictions where the speed limit is greater than twenty-five miles per hour;
(b) A municipality may restrict the speed of an EPAMD in locations with congested pedestrian or nonmotorized traffic and where there is significant speed differential between pedestrians or nonmotorized traffic and EPAMD operators. The areas in this subsection must be designated by the city engineer or designee of the municipality. Municipalities shall not restrict the speed of an EPAMD in the entire community or in areas in which there is infrequent pedestrian traffic;
(c) A state agency or local government may regulate the operation of an EPAMD within the boundaries of any area used for recreation, open space, habitat, trails, or conservation purposes.
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EPAMDs are actually excluded from bike trails not just for Seattle, but for the whole of King County! At least, that's what WSDOT told me when I asked them :(

That being said, E-bikes are also specifically prohibited on the trail, and I see them all the time. Same with electronic skateboards.

EPAMDs are, however, perfectly legal on the bike lane (lots of those on the other side of Lake Washington). EDIT: NO WAIT, THEY AREN'T

Edited by Antshark
correction
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1 hour ago, Antshark said:

EPAMDs are, however, perfectly legal on the bike lane (lots of those on the other side of Lake Washington).

You must be talking about the east side of the lake?  EPAMDs are NOT permitted in bike lanes in Seattle.

According to Seattle Municipal Code SMC 11.46.010 B:

  • Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, EPAMDs may be operated on roadways, shoulders, sidewalks, and alleys, but not on bicycle lanes, or public paths. Where an arterial street contains a sidewalk, EPAMDs shall be operated only upon the sidewalk and not upon the roadway or shoulder. An EPAMD shall not be operated upon the roadway or shoulder of any highway where the speed limit is greater than 35 miles per hour.

Can you provide a reference that indicates that EPAMDs are permitted in bike lanes?  Based on the Washington state laws, a bike traveling on the road (and I assume bike lane is included) is treated as a "vehicle".  EPAMDs are not "vehicles" under state law.  So it seems unlikely that this usage is allowed.

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Oops. You're probably right. I mistakenly thought so because on my commute path, I take the bike lane where no "adequate pedestrian facility" exists (so I can act like a pedestrian and take the bike lane). So I mis-remembered the simplification. My bad.

:S

So if a road runs next to the bike trail, what happens? EPAMDs aren't legally allowed to be on the trail, but also aren't legally allowed on the road because pedestrian facilities exist (but are illegal). 

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1 hour ago, Antshark said:

So if a road runs next to the bike trail, what happens? EPAMDs aren't legally allowed to be on the trail, but also aren't legally allowed on the road because pedestrian facilities exist (but are illegal). 

I found a memo indicating that if a section of trail also serves as a sidewalk, that EPAMDs would be legal on that section.  Looks like an old proposal, but I can't imagine that there would be any issue in that case.

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WOW! So many rules.  Suddenly I'm feeling lucky here in jolly old England.  We only have one rule: ILLEGAL EVERYWHERE!!  

Your best bet is to ride conservatively around the public, be polite, warn when approaching from behind (see fog horn above), smile, answer questions, don't retaliate when people are rude or step in front of you without looking.  In other words, don't ride like I do :rolleyes:

As long as you're not pissing people off, no one will care, especially as all those other rule breakers are already out there.

Oh, and try to become invisible when the Fuzz is around.  When I see a cop car I suddenly get the urge to dismount (behind an obstacle) and consult my phone, or turn down a side street.  No point in testing the boundaries. It's easy here; there's only one cop per 100,000 illegal immigrants.

Edited by Smoother
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  • 2 years later...
On 10/31/2017 at 10:25 PM, JimB said:

You must be talking about the east side of the lake?  EPAMDs are NOT permitted in bike lanes in Seattle.

According to Seattle Municipal Code SMC 11.46.010 B:

  • Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, EPAMDs may be operated on roadways, shoulders, sidewalks, and alleys, but not on bicycle lanes, or public paths. Where an arterial street contains a sidewalk, EPAMDs shall be operated only upon the sidewalk and not upon the roadway or shoulder.

Guess what? EUC is NOT EPAMD and NOT a motorized scooter!

https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.710

Quote

 

What is the definition of a motorized scooter which is legal to use in Washington State?
An “electric personal assistive mobility device” (EPAMD) means a self-balancing device with two wheels not in tandem, designed to transport only one person by an electric propulsion system with an average power of seven hundred fifty watts (one horsepower) having a maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such propulsion while ridden by an operator weighing one hundred seventy pounds, or less than twenty miles per hour. (RCW 46.04.1695)

A “motorized foot scooter” means a device with no more than 2 ten-inch or smaller diameter wheels that has handlebars, is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, and is powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion. (RCW 46.04.336)

 

From what it looks like, EUC does not fall into any vehicle classification, even class-3 ebike (because that specifically said that power is used for assistance).

Edited by Alj
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  • 3 months later...

Does it apply to the newer model EUC's? It specifically states "when powered solely by such a propulsion system, of less than twenty miles per hour." Most all of the EUC's now are not limited to 20 mph. Of course this looks like it was from 2015 so maybe it has been updated since then?

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I still a learner with a capital L relegated to a parking lot so am unqualified to answer, but the laws here are—jumbled. There was a pilot program allowing electrically assisted vehicles onto two and only two of the most popular paved bike trails and I think that went well but I understand EUCs and eBikes remain technically verboten. Sidewalks in certain cases are ok, streets are ok where the speed limit is low, bike lanes in the streets are also a technical nono and I don't see EUCs in them. 

That said, there are lots of electric vehicles (boards, eBikes, EUCs) on the bike/walking/skateboarding trail near my house and Jimmy Chang posted a vid of a large group ride in downtown/gasworks from this summer that included a chat with some uniformed persons—so I think that as long as you are polite, speed appropriate, and safe (safe meaning you have a mask on too!) you'll be fine. Going down a neighborhood street or through the arboretum at 30MPH with your speakers full blast might not be a wise play. Likely the biggest factor will be your closing speed, keep it way down and I don't think anyone will mind at all.

Be aware that bicyclists can now legally float** stop signs so add that to your list of things-to-watch-out-for. Not that any sane cyclist ever came to a full stop anyway, but that's a detail!

**aka 'California stop'

Edited by Tawpie
wordsmithing
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