Author Topic: Recumbent trikes not addressed by state bicycling laws?!?!?  (Read 3310 times)

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Offline uniquebobc

It would appear as though the “bicycle” laws of Washington State do not apply to recumbent trikes that have 20-inch diameter wheels (most recumbent trikes have all 20-inch diameter wheels; some even have 16-inch diameter wheels, although some have a larger than 20-inch rear wheel).

Is this true, or did I miss something in the law?  Am I not protected by the laws of the State of Washington that apply to bicycles because my ICE trike has all 20-inch wheels and therefore does not meet the definition of “bicycle?”  I cannot increase the wheel size of my very expensive recumbent trike.

The law, RCW 46.04.071, Bicycle, reads:  “Bicycle" means every device propelled solely by human power upon which a person or persons may ride, having two tandem wheels either of which is sixteen inches or more in diameter, or three wheels, any one of which is more than twenty inches in diameter.”

A strict reading of the law leaves me, and others riding recumbent trikes “hanging out there”!

Or is there case law that applies this law to trikes?

Furthermore, what is the status of cycle laws in other states as they apply to recumbent trikes?  I plan to cycle outside of the State of Washington.

I do not want to be hanging out there, especially after being almost run over (on purpose) by a belligerent big pickup driver last Friday afternoon.  He could have been cited for reckless driving, but it appears as though I have no rights in Washington State as a rider of a recumbent tricycle!

Are we tricyclists illegal?  Are we subjecting our lives and property to grave danger because our trikes are not addressed by US states' laws?

Has anyone taken up this issue on a comprehensive, nationwide basis?  If not, does anyone want to join me in doing so?


  • Guest
Re: Recumbent trikes not addressed by state bicycling laws?!?!?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 01:01:04 pm »
1. Relax

2. Just because your trike may not fit the definition of a "bicycle" doesn't mean it is "illegal."

3. You will still be proetcted by the general principle of negligence. Let's says a state has no laws speficically addressing people on roller skates. The absence of such laws does not mean a motorist can simply run down a roller skater with no consequences.

4. You can always argue that "wheel" includes the tire, which will probably put you above the 20" floor.

5. Make sure you comply with the legal requirements placed on people riding bicycles, such as any lighting requirements and any requirement that you ride on the shoulder when one is available.

6. I suspect the 20" floor was meant to exclude from coverage the smallest of childrens' pedal toys.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Recumbent trikes not addressed by state bicycling laws?!?!?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 11:35:03 pm »
I'm with indyfabz, relax. But it's an interesting question. Bent Rider Online is a marvelous resource such inquiries. There you will find a huge trike community.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent