Reader asks about rules for bikes and scooters

The in basket: Larry Mann of Port Orchard writes, “It has always been my understanding that bicycle riders in the city ride in bicycle lanes or on the sidewalk, and to the right side of the road, to the right of the fog line on rural roads. It is becoming a common occurrence at the lighted intersections of Bethel-Lund and Bethel-Sedgewick in Port Orchard to have a bike rider in the traffic left turn lane. The left turn goes green and by the time the bike rider gets it all together and gets going the light goes red for left turn traffic. Is it not proper and required for the bike rider to use the two cross walks to make that left turn onto the crossing road rather than cause traffic interference?

“Second, on Bethel Road in Port Orchard once again. We have bike riders riding in traffic on bicycles that have motors on them. What is the policy on these bikes? I believe them to be illegal because they do not have insurance or license tabs that are required for motor vehicles.

Third, while driving down Jackson Avenue in Port Orchard at 35 mph I was passed by a teenager on what would normally be a foot-powered scooter you would see at the skate board park in Port Orchard, at about 10-15 mph faster than I was moving.

Again, these toys do not have license tabs and no insurance to be running on the streets or roads as a hazard to motor vehicles that have a paid legal right to be on those roads. What is the policy here?

“Fourth, two weeks ago (about) three teenagers on what looked like very miniature motorcycles came down the sidewalk in Port Orchard by Fred Meyer, around the corner by Fred Meyer gas station, heading towards the oil change business, traveling at around 20 mph (a guess). As before, no plates, no insurance, in addition to no helmets and possibly hitting someone on the sidewalk. What is the policy on these little critters?

The out basket: RCWs 46.61.710 through 730, which cover the requirements of such vehicles, are mind-boggling with their constant back-and-forth references to other RCWs. So I asked State Trooper Russ Winger to simplify it for us.

“Bicycle riders shall ride nearest to the right lane edge but are not required to ride to the right of lane edge line (fog line),” Russ said. “Bikes can ride on the paved or gravel shoulder if they choose.

“Bicycle riders can also ride to the left lane edge when approaching an intersection to turn left.

Bicycle riders do not have to use the crosswalk –  if present – to make a left turn. They can, in fact, wait, stopped in the lane of travel, in front of or behind vehicles in both travel and turn lanes. They have the same rights and responsibilities afforded vehicles.


“Bikes with either electric or liquid fuel motors are considered ‘Mopeds,'” Russ said. “Mopeds have less than 50cc displacement and less than 2hp and can travel 30mph or less on level ground. They are required to obtain a registration and permit to operate. A helmet is required to operate mopeds on state, city and county roadways. They must follow all rules of the road.

Mopeds cannot operate on bike paths/ bikeways/ equestrian/ hiking or recreation trails.



“Motorized Foot Scooters can be electric or powered and capable of 20mph or less on level ground. They have access to highways and roadways (other than limited access highways.) They must follow the all rules of the road. MFS cannot operate on bike paths/ bikeways/ equestrian/ hiking or recreation trails that were built, operated and maintained with federal funds.). A helmet is not required on an MFS.




Motorcycles, Mopeds, Motorized Foot Scooters and Electric Assisted Bicycles do not require insurance coverage. It is illegal to operate any of these on a sidewalk.


The ‘Miniature Motorcycles’ are not legal to drive on roadways, sidewalks.


And very importantly, state and local agencies can place restrictions on where and how any of these vehicles operate.”


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