route across the USA

Mr. Max

Active Member
I can't do this ride in 2022, but I'm definitely hoping to do a cross country bike ride in 2023. Looking at all of the routes on the Adventure Cycling website, I'm having a hard figuring out what a good coast to coast route is where it's certain that ebikes are legal? Seems like there's some gray area. Like New Mexico requires ebikes to be licensed and a number of states only allow Class 2 bikes. I was planning on riding a Class 3 bike. Not because I'm planning on going fast, but because that's what I have.

Has anyone ridden their ebike across the US? If so what route did you take?

Thanks in advance!
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
I haven't bikes across the USA, and I certainly don't want to; but I did drive most of it with an ebike in the van to use when possible.

You'll really have to check state by state bike laws, but it looks like the northern route is all legal for class 3s, but not on the bike paths, only the roads. The is a state by state list on this forum under the "Laws" Section.
Edit wiki link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
If you plan on using highway shoulders and back roads, do you really think a police officer will stop and inspect your eBike? If you are set up with all the racks and touring bags on your eBike, it would be very hard to see you even had an eBike.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
I can't do this ride in 2022, but I'm definitely hoping to do a cross country bike ride in 2023. Looking at all of the routes on the Adventure Cycling website, I'm having a hard figuring out what a good coast to coast route is where it's certain that ebikes are legal? Seems like there's some gray area. Like New Mexico requires ebikes to be licensed and a number of states only allow Class 2 bikes. I was planning on riding a Class 3 bike. Not because I'm planning on going fast, but because that's what I have.

Has anyone ridden their ebike across the US? If so what route did you take?

Thanks in advance!
Hi, done it 2x.

2019 - Long Beach CA to SF via PCH, then east via Lincoln Highway route. CA - NV (pony express) - UT - WY - NE - IA - WI- MI - OH - PA - MD - DC

The WI-MI portion was a modification on my part to go to one of my favorite areas — the Driftless region of the upper Midwest.

2021 - modified Great American Rail Trail - WA - ID - MT - UT - WY - NE - IA - IL - IN - OH - PA - MD - DC

I did more off-road in 2021.

I have never been asked about ebike class anywhere. however, I was tugging a decent-sized solar trailer, so nobody was eyeing me as some sort of speed racer.

All of my encounters with law enforcement involved whether a bike was permitted on the highway I was riding on. For example, I was pulled over in OH (Appalachia) when a local policemen told me a preferred route was bike-legal while the state highway officer saw it differently. Google Maps also said bike-legal but oh well. Another example: construction on a normally bike-legal route makes it bike-improbable. Was pulled over by the CHP in CA for this reason, although not my fault, technically.

I have almost always found law enforcement to be helpful and courteous. One exception was on an acoustic bike in 2013 in NE IA. Officer pulled me over. I showed him I was on a bike-legal route according to IA DOT official bike map. “Not according to me,” he responded. Opened his trunk while sitting on his ass behind the steering wheel and ordered me to load up the trunk with my stuff. Thank God it wasn’t an e-bike.
 

GypsyTreker

Well-Known Member
I can't do this ride in 2022, but I'm definitely hoping to do a cross country bike ride in 2023. Looking at all of the routes on the Adventure Cycling website, I'm having a hard figuring out what a good coast to coast route is where it's certain that ebikes are legal? Seems like there's some gray area. Like New Mexico requires ebikes to be licensed and a number of states only allow Class 2 bikes. I was planning on riding a Class 3 bike. Not because I'm planning on going fast, but because that's what I have.

Has anyone ridden their ebike across the US? If so what route did you take?

Thanks in advance!
Had no idea that confiscating bicycles was possible considering all the real crime rates are declining....wait, nevermind. Anyway I researched the Great American Rails to Trails project and it looks amazing. Its only 52% complete but I never thought of eBike legality. Anyway if you review what they have you can kinda see where starts and stops might reroute you. There was a lot of westward "car traffic free' rail 2 trail already in place, more than I would have thought. The route is being constructed to go from Washington DC to Washington State (coast I believe)
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
Had no idea that confiscating bicycles was possible considering all the real crime rates are declining....wait, nevermind. Anyway I researched the Great American Rails to Trails project and it looks amazing. Its only 52% complete but I never thought of eBike legality. Anyway if you review what they have you can kinda see where starts and stops might reroute you. There was a lot of westward "car traffic free' rail 2 trail already in place, more than I would have thought. The route is being constructed to go from Washington DC to Washington State (coast I believe)
We have a thread going on that project, but never talked about ebike legality.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
Had no idea that confiscating bicycles was possible considering all the real crime rates are declining....wait, nevermind. Anyway I researched the Great American Rails to Trails project and it looks amazing. Its only 52% complete but I never thought of eBike legality. Anyway if you review what they have you can kinda see where starts and stops might reroute you. There was a lot of westward "car traffic free' rail 2 trail already in place, more than I would have thought. The route is being constructed to go from Washington DC to Washington State (coast I believe)
“52% complete“ is quite misleading. Significant portions are only suitable for ATVs or unmaintained/unusable at present.
 

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K PierreR

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I have toured on my e bike with heavy use of rail trails. I have never had an issue, my bike is definitely not steath and is most certainly class 3. My bike has been described as the eighteen wheeler or bicycle touring rigs at 12 feet long. I also travel with a dog.
 

Mr. Max

Active Member
Hi, done it 2x.

2019 - Long Beach CA to SF via PCH, then east via Lincoln Highway route. CA - NV (pony express) - UT - WY - NE - IA - WI- MI - OH - PA - MD - DC

The WI-MI portion was a modification on my part to go to one of my favorite areas — the Driftless region of the upper Midwest.

2021 - modified Great American Rail Trail - WA - ID - MT - UT - WY - NE - IA - IL - IN - OH - PA - MD - DC

I did more off-road in 2021.

I have never been asked about ebike class anywhere. however, I was tugging a decent-sized solar trailer, so nobody was eyeing me as some sort of speed racer.

All of my encounters with law enforcement involved whether a bike was permitted on the highway I was riding on. For example, I was pulled over in OH (Appalachia) when a local policemen told me a preferred route was bike-legal while the state highway officer saw it differently. Google Maps also said bike-legal but oh well. Another example: construction on a normally bike-legal route makes it bike-improbable. Was pulled over by the CHP in CA for this reason, although not my fault, technically.

I have almost always found law enforcement to be helpful and courteous. One exception was on an acoustic bike in 2013 in NE IA. Officer pulled me over. I showed him I was on a bike-legal route according to IA DOT official bike map. “Not according to me,” he responded. Opened his trunk while sitting on his ass behind the steering wheel and ordered me to load up the trunk with my stuff. Thank God it wasn’t an e-bike.
That's a great story! Getting a ride by a cop. Thanks for sharing!
 

GypsyTreker

Well-Known Member
“52% complete“ is quite misleading. Significant portions are only suitable for ATVs or unmaintained/unusable at present.

“52% complete“ is quite misleading. Significant portions are only suitable for ATVs or unmaintained/unusable at present.
Was not aware that the R2Trail guys were misleading folks. I do know every complete mile is way safer than shoulder riding some street with cars and trucks. I actually send money to 3 organizations . Rails to Trails, DAV and an animal "no kill" shelter. I do it only because I am so impressed with what I have personally experienced. So far the Rails 2 Trails ( I lump all pedestrian thruways that allow eBikes in this catagory) efforts have been , to me, a real showing of what people can accomplish for the benefit of all.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
The Rock Island rail trail here in Central IL is unrideable if it's wet. Only a few sections that are compacted rock, mostly dirt trails. Plenty of washouts. Some years they don't drag or work the trail at all. Hennepin Canal State Trail is hardly any better. Basically 2 tire tracks with a little rock. I&M Canal trail is the same, except the water is basically stagnant. It becomes mile after mile of green moss. Mosquito heaven! All 3 are basically mtb trails, as in full suspension mtb trails. Anything over 15mph is a real risk. Most road guys ride country roads, even ones that intersect with the rail trail. Compared to riding the rail trail and rattling their teeth.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
The Rock Island rail trail here in Central IL is unrideable if it's wet. Only a few sections that are compacted rock, mostly dirt trails. Plenty of washouts. Some years they don't drag or work the trail at all. Hennepin Canal State Trail is hardly any better. Basically 2 tire tracks with a little rock. I&M Canal trail is the same, except the water is basically stagnant. It becomes mile after mile of green moss. Mosquito heaven! All 3 are basically mtb trails, as in full suspension mtb trails. Anything over 15mph is a real risk. Most road guys ride country roads, even ones that intersect with the rail trail. Compared to riding the rail trail and rattling their teeth.
I rode all of these in 2018 and again this past summer as they are part of the GART, as I’m sure you know. The problem is lack of funding. The Hennepin state park office has never been open for me. Camping fee collection was non-existent, and I talked to people who’d been camping for four days for free. The quality of the trail varies tremendously, depending where you are. Hennepin is not far from being a great trail, and as the “westernmost” canal, deserves more support. The I&M is unrideable once you get to the Illini State Park area — jumped off and took back roads to Joliet. I talked to people in the office back in 2018 who told me money for maintenance (including the mowing) comes and goes.

Despite their shortcomings, it’s luxury riding compared to the eastern half of Palouse-Cascade in WA. Numerous detours due to burned out trestles, seriously sharp rocks, boulders, sand, homeless encampments with hostile dogs — but the worst was having to stop frequently to unlock padlocks (you get the combo when you register to ride the eastern half). One padlock wouldn’t unlock, and there was no way around the gate. Took me 30 min to figure out what to do. In MT, the ATV trails were 85% manageable with my Smart Sam Pluses, but the real issue was the ATVs themselves. They never see bikes on “their” trails, so they’re coming around the bend at top speed.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
Was not aware that the R2Trail guys were misleading folks. I do know every complete mile is way safer than shoulder riding some street with cars and trucks. I actually send money to 3 organizations . Rails to Trails, DAV and an animal "no kill" shelter. I do it only because I am so impressed with what I have personally experienced. So far the Rails 2 Trails ( I lump all pedestrian thruways that allow eBikes in this catagory) efforts have been , to me, a real showing of what people can accomplish for the benefit of all.
From DC to Steubenville, OH is complete, as is most of IA. Western half of WA is coming along. Some nice disconnected trails as well, but other sections simply don’t belong under that 52%. I think it’s obvious that they were quite generous with “complete” pretty much for the reason you state — fundraising.
 

GypsyTreker

Well-Known Member
From DC to Steubenville, OH is complete, as is most of IA. Western half of WA is coming along. Some nice disconnected trails as well, but other sections simply don’t belong under that 52%. I think it’s obvious that they were quite generous with “complete” pretty much for the reason you state — fundraising.
Actually your probably dead on about fundraising, what's new, right? Funny thing is when it come to the Truth being a better story this group has a lot to show if they never mentioned the Great American Route. Repurposed railways , energy company access roads and Greeways, like here in Fl are truly win wins. I must say when it comes to rails 2 trails and the taxpayer assistance given to the rail industry I see getting trails as somewhat a nice return on what was given.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Lack of funding is driven by what is perceived as lack of use and interest in my opinion. Some states are finally realizing the commercial benefit of attracting riders from all around the United States. Cycling is drawing more interest in Peoria. They are extending the Rock Island Greenway in the city. All the mileage in the city is paved and connects with the Rock Island at Alta, IL. They are also adding designated bike lanes when they redo some major arteries. East Peoria is improving the crossing of the Illinois River and better connections to Morton, IL. Last year 3 government units advanced a new rail trail conversion from Peoria to Farmington, IL. So great progress here, but certainly not state wide!
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
I have not ridden it yet, but the Palouse to Cascades trail is good from CleElum west. It's the east side of Warshington that is rough. From my reading, you need to still catch a ride at Vantage to cross the Columbia. That should change shortly, but until the railroad bridge is complete, it's a get a ride crossing. Interstate 90 is not a good road to use to cross the river. No shoulders, nasty sidewinds, and the bridge slopes uphill when going east. Then, from reading various blogs and watching youtube videos, the trail is rough, has some swampy areas where people go around and some trestles that are out of service making detours necessary. There are locked gates and you need to get a permit and combinations to the locks (please update this if it has changed) and sometimes the combinations don't work. Water is scarce and camping is scarce due to it being private land. On camping, a couple of the small burgs have finally realized that this trail might be a good thing so are going to have a few camping spots in town.

It's still a work in progress. Here is a link. https://www.palousetocascadestrail.org/
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
I have not ridden it yet, but the Palouse to Cascades trail is good from CleElum west. It's the east side of Warshington that is rough. From my reading, you need to still catch a ride at Vantage to cross the Columbia. That should change shortly, but until the railroad bridge is complete, it's a get a ride crossing. Interstate 90 is not a good road to use to cross the river. No shoulders, nasty sidewinds, and the bridge slopes uphill when going east. Then, from reading various blogs and watching youtube videos, the trail is rough, has some swampy areas where people go around and some trestles that are out of service making detours necessary. There are locked gates and you need to get a permit and combinations to the locks (please update this if it has changed) and sometimes the combinations don't work. Water is scarce and camping is scarce due to it being private land. On camping, a couple of the small burgs have finally realized that this trail might be a good thing so are going to have a few camping spots in town.

It's still a work in progress. Here is a link. https://www.palousetocascadestrail.org/
So, when I got to Rosalia, I was banking on the six camping sites that were to be available at the town park. Could not find them. Next morning I was told they had been ripped out the previous week due to “transients” who come through between Pullman and Spokane and trash the place.
 

BeltzerNYC

Member
Region
USA
Hi, done it 2x.

2019 - Long Beach CA to SF via PCH, then east via Lincoln Highway route. CA - NV (pony express) - UT - WY - NE - IA - WI- MI - OH - PA - MD - DC

The WI-MI portion was a modification on my part to go to one of my favorite areas — the Driftless region of the upper Midwest.

2021 - modified Great American Rail Trail - WA - ID - MT - UT - WY - NE - IA - IL - IN - OH - PA - MD - DC

I did more off-road in 2021.

I have never been asked about ebike class anywhere. however, I was tugging a decent-sized solar trailer, so nobody was eyeing me as some sort of speed racer.

All of my encounters with law enforcement involved whether a bike was permitted on the highway I was riding on. For example, I was pulled over in OH (Appalachia) when a local policemen told me a preferred route was bike-legal while the state highway officer saw it differently. Google Maps also said bike-legal but oh well. Another example: construction on a normally bike-legal route makes it bike-improbable. Was pulled over by the CHP in CA for this reason, although not my fault, technically.

I have almost always found law enforcement to be helpful and courteous. One exception was on an acoustic bike in 2013 in NE IA. Officer pulled me over. I showed him I was on a bike-legal route according to IA DOT official bike map. “Not according to me,” he responded. Opened his trunk while sitting on his ass behind the steering wheel and ordered me to load up the trunk with my stuff. Thank God it wasn’t an e-bike.
what type of battery sand motor set up did you have and what was your average speed and weight? how often and how did you charge? thank you!