As of Jan 1, new Arizona law ARS 28-819 has officially defined classifications of e-bikes, allowing those with a max power-assist speed of 20mph or less to have fully trail access statewide wherever conventional pedal bikes are allowed. Local authorities still have the power to enact additional policies to prohibit e-bikes on their own trail systems, but this certainly will open up many excellent trails in the desert southwest for e-mountain bikers, now potentially linking three of the states around the Four Corners…
e-bike access on AZ bike trails & multi-use paths
Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state (fourth in the nation), including AZ capital Phoenix and several parks with mountain bike trails, is one of several to have welcomed e-bikes adhering to the new state law. Essentially the new law requires bike companies to include a permanent label on all new e-bikes that states their classification, top assisted speed & motor power.
e-bike classification defines access, mostly…
Under the new legislation, ARS 28-819: “An operator of an electric bicycle is granted all the rights and privileges and is subject to all of the duties of a person riding a bicycle“.
Class 1 e-bikes are defined as pedal-assist bikes with a top assisted speed of 20mph. Class 2 e-bikes are throttle-assist bikes but still with a top assisted speed of 20mph. Under the new state law both Class 1 & 2 e-bikes are permitted to “be used on bicycle and multiuse paths“. Pedal-assist bikes with a motor assist speed up to 28mph are defined as Class 3, and for the most part are not permitted on bike trails or paths, except those on the side of roads.
While the new state law gives access to e-bikes on Arizona State Parks and Trails, applicability will be varied throughout the state where various counties & cities scrambled last autumn to enact their own local legislation. Most often the intent was to limit e-bike access to individual trails & paths mostly in more developed & urban areas, where there were fears of conflict, mostly regarding pedestrians.
So as much as it seems like a blanket opening of access, you still will likely need to check ahead before heading out on the trail aboard your new e-MTB. A reminder that the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management still define e-bikes as motorized vehicles which are prohibited from off-road use in the bulk of federal National Forest & BLM land in Arizona.
If you want to learn more about where to Ride Responsibly on state land, eight other states have recently passed similar legislation: Colorado, California, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah & Washington. Your local e-MTB shop should be able to offer more localized info on the best places to ride e-bikes off-road near you.