Electric bikes have been steadily growing in popularity over the last decade, which has led to the need for some laws and restrictions across the U.S.
Although it may seem unnecessary to regulate electric bikes, these laws are for the safety of both the rider and others who may be around them.
Even though they are still technically bikes, the fact that some models can ride around 25 mph without pedaling makes them low speed motorbikes in some ways, requiring them to be allowed only on certain roads, and often with a license.
Here are some of the more notable electric bike laws across the U.S.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Act, “a low speed electric bicycle is defined as a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph (32 km/h) and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W (1.01 hp).”
CPSC rules stipulate that low speed electric bicycles. are exempt from classification as actual motor vehicles if they have fully operable pedals, an electric motor of less than 750W (1 hp), and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) when operated by a rider weighing 170 pounds.
An electric bike remaining within these specifications is subject to the CPSC consumer product regulations for a bicycle.
Any bike that exceeds the specifications listed above in regards to power and speed are regulated by the federal DOT and NHTSA as motor vehicles, and must meet additional safety requirements.
While electric bikes are defined on a federal level, states have their own laws that can vary on a number of different factors. These include
Now, as we said, every state is different. Currently, 37 states have various laws for electric bike usage available, while 13 currently have no legislation listed online. (This does not mean these states lack laws regarding.)
While most every state allows these bikes, New York technically doesn’t as a state, although there have been several efforts on city levels to offer regulation. Momentum is building for just that.
Keep in mind that these laws refer to electric bikes that have throttle-only motors available. Pedelecs (pedal-assisted) are not subject to regulations.
A helpful chart for each state can be found here.
Electric bike laws are necessary, but the level of cohesion between states leaves much to be desired. Time will tell if restrictions are loosed further, as electric bikes continue to rise in popularity.
Do you have any experience with electric bike laws in your area? Feel free to share the information below. Thanks!
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