Pedal assist bike laws
The use of electric-assist bicycles (“e-bikes”) has grown rapidly over the last 5 years. Modern e-bikes often look indistinguishable from a “regular” bike but have robust batteries and technology which are capable of sensing when a rider needs a helping hand over a hill, into a headwind, or accelerating from a stop. While e-bikes have existed for years, recent advances in technology have allowed batteries to become smaller, lighter, cheaper, and longer range, enhancing the usefulness, appeal, and affordability of these machines. E-bikes appeal to many types of people but particularly for those who use them as a tool to overcome limited physical fitness, for people running everyday errands who want to carry heavier loads, and for parents transporting children.
As of August 10, 2022, the e-bike definition language was signed into law as amendments to the Transportation Bond Bill (H.5151 ) to include Class 1 and Class 2 definitions for e-bikes. This law went into effect 90 days from signing, on November 8, 2022.
CLASS 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph, with an electric motor of 750 watts or less. CLASS 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph, with an electric motor of 750 watts or less.
Note: MassBike will continue to advocate for a Class 3 definition in order to match MA law with federal definitions and statewide regulations set by the Department of Conservation of Recreation.
E-bike riders are afforded all the rights and privileges related to all bicycle riders, except that e-bikes are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks.
Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles are not considered to be motorized bicycles as further defined in MA law, as such no license is required to ride them and they’re allowed on bikeways and bike paths. However a local jurisdiction may regulate and prohibit their use on bikeways/bike paths, but only after a public notice and public hearing.
E-bikes are not allowed on natural surface trails (ie. mountain bike trails) unless otherwise permitted by a local jurisdiction.
The Previous Law
Before the e-bike definition amendment passed in the Transportation Bond Bill, there was no designation with which to regulate e-bikes. However a “motorized bicycle” is defined as having a helper motor with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour. Motorized bicycle riders must be licensed, and are prohibited from off-street pathways.
The lack of a similar designation for e-bike riders left ambiguity in where electric bicycles should be ridden on paths, trails, and sidewalks.
Pedal assist bike laws
Mon. Fri: 10:00am. 6:00pm Sat: 10:00am. 5:00pm Sun: Closed
Electric assisted bicycles are becoming a very common sight on bike paths, sidewalks and even beaches. They come in all different forms. there are commuter models, mountain bikes and even lightweight racing bikes models. The one thing that these increasingly popular electric bikes have in common is that they are pedal assisted and are classified as bicycles in the state of Florida.
Note; A city, town or state agency that has jurisdiction can restrict where e-bikes are allowed. When in doubt, check for local rules and regulations.
Definition of an electric bike in Florida?
The state of Florida (FL) defines electric bicycles as a bicycle or a tricycle equipped with fully operable pedals, a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. Electric bikes are categorized into 3 categories:
- Class 1: Comprise of e-bikes with a motor that assists the rider when pedaling only. The motor should cease to offer assistance if the e-bike reaches 20mph.
- Class 2: The e-bikes come with a motor that propels them without pedaling. The motor should cease to offer assistance if the e-bike reaches 20mph.
- Class 3: The e-bikes come with a motor that assists a rider when pedaling. It ceases to help if the e-bike reaches 28mph.
If your e-bike can reach a speed of 30, 35, 40, and 45 mph, it will fall under a description of a moped and electric motorcycle and you need to license, register and insure it.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, an electric bicycle or an operator of an electric bicycle shall be afforded all the rights and privileges, and be subject to all of the duties, of a bicycle or the operator of a bicycle, including s. 316.2065. An electric bicycle is a vehicle to the same extent as a bicycle. However, this section may not be construed to prevent a local government, through the exercise of its powers under s. 316.008, from adopting an ordinance governing the operation of electric bicycles on streets, highways, sidewalks, and sidewalk areas under the local government’s jurisdiction or to prevent a municipality, county, or agency of the state having jurisdiction over a bicycle path, multiuse path, or trail network from restricting or prohibiting the operation of an electric bicycle on a bicycle path, multiuse path, or trail network.
(2) An electric bicycle or an operator of an electric bicycle is not subject to the provisions of law relating to financial responsibility, driver or motor vehicle licenses, vehicle registration, title certificates, off-highway motorcycles, or off-highway vehicles.
(3) Beginning January 1, 2021, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed in a prominent location to each electric bicycle. The label must contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle.
(4) A person may not tamper with or modify an electric bicycle so as to change the motor-powered speed capability or engagement of an electric bicycle, unless the label indicating the classification number required in subsection (3) is replaced after such modification.
(5) An electric bicycle must comply with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission under 16 C.F.R. part 1512.
(6) An electric bicycle must operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the rider stops pedaling or when the brakes are applied.
(7) An operator may ride an electric bicycle where bicycles are allowed, including, but not limited to, streets, highways, roadways, shoulders, bicycle lanes, and bicycle or multiuse paths. (Not sidewalks!)
According to California (CA) vehicle regulations. electric bicycles are divided into three categories:
Class 1 and class 2 e-bikes are slower, more controllable, and safer than class 3 electric bicycles; the law requires operators of Class 3 electric bicycles to comply with the following:
- Must be 16 years or older.
- Bicycle safety helmets must be worn.
- Passengers shall not be transported.
California law also requires that each electric bicycle can only be equipped with one electric bicycle motor of fewer than 750 watts (approximately one horsepower). If the motor is more powerful, the e-bike may be classified as a different type of vehicle, such as a motorized bicycle or electric scooter.
Additionally, riders must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet when riding a Category 3 e-bike. There are different restrictions on using e-bikes on roads, bike lanes, and bike paths for other e-bikes.
If you are currently located in California and are an e-bike rider, knowing the local e-bike laws in California will help you ride safely and avoid fines.
California electric bikes have the following age restrictions and registration requirements:
If the top speed of an e-bike exceeds 20 mph, it is considered a motorcycle or e-scooter. It requires a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and following relevant traffic rules and requirements.
- Safety Requirements: California law requires all e-bike riders to wear a proper helmet. In addition, electric bicycles must be equipped with working front and rear headlights and taillights to ensure safe riding at night or in low-visibility conditions.
California’s safety regulations for electric bicycles are as follows:
When riding in California, ensure the safety of using this mode of transportation.
Restrictions and regulations on where electric bikes can be parked and where they can be ridden.
- Where to park: In California, e-bike riders are subject to the same parking rules as conventional bikes. That means e-bikes can generally be parked on bike racks, sidewalks (as long as they don’t obstruct pedestrian traffic), and other designated bike parking areas.
However, it is important to check local ordinances, as parking rules and restrictions may vary from city to city. Additionally, e-bikes should not be parked in car parking spaces or on parking meters, as they may be towed or confiscated by law enforcement.
Some cities may also have specific rules about where e-bikes can be parked or restrictions on where e-bikes can be used, especially in parks and natural areas.
- Driving lanes: E-bikes can be driven on bike lanes, recreational trails, curbs, or shoulders. If an electric bicycle is to be conducted on a motor vehicle lane, it shall follow the rules and requirements of motor vehicles.
- Where to ride: According to California traffic regulations, electric bicycles can usually be driven on bicycle lanes or road shoulders and can also be driven on motor vehicle lanes by the rules of motor vehicle driving but cannot be driven on highways or speed-limited roads. The relevant agencies should mark prohibited areas.
In addition, if it is a folding electric bicycle. it can be carried on most public transport. Still, there are specific size restrictions and the need to comply with local public transport regulations.
In summary, in California, there are some restrictions and regulations on where electric bicycles can be parked and ridden, and local laws and requirements must be followed.
Riders should abide by traffic rules, choose a suitable parking place, and ensure electric bicycles will not hinder traffic or allow passengers to move freely.
Are e-bikes legal in my area?
To best understand the legality of e-bikes, it’s essential to understand their classification system. Let’s take a look at the three classes of e-bikes.
Class 1—this is what the woom UP bike falls under. This is the most lenient class and e-bikes bikes that fall under this category are generally allowed to be operated anywhere you can ride a regular bike, which is great news for your Rider that’s ready to take on the road with an extra jolt of energy.
A Class 1 e-bike only applies power to the drive system as your Rider pedals—in other words, no pedaling, no power. E-bikes in this class can’t exceed 20 miles per hour with electric assistance. Created with your child’s safety in mind, the woom UP is limited to 12 mph. Once the UP reaches its maximum speed, the motor automatically switches off. Riders are still able to pedal to their heart’s content or zoom down a hill to reach higher speeds, they just won’t have the extra help of the motor.
Class 2 e-bikes receive their power through the handlebar throttle and can speed up using power on demand, which means they can speed up without pedaling at all. These bicycles are very similar to electric scooters or motorcycles, but still offer the rider the ability to pedal if wanted or needed. The maximum speed for Class 2 e-bikes is also 20 mph.
Class 3 e-bikes are the challengers of e-bike legality and the lines get a little blurry here depending on your state or area. These types of bikes don’t operate via the handlebar throttle, but rather through pedaling, just like the Class 1 e-bikes. The catch here is that Class 3 e-bikes have the power to go up to 28 mph before the motor calls it quits and deactivates. E-bikes in this class may be restricted from slower speed areas such as multi-use paths. Some states also require a license for this type of e-bike, meaning your Rider would need to be of a certain age—usually 16 or 17. And of course, helmets are generally required with this one, though we recommend always keeping safety top of mind and protecting your melon.
General E-Bike Laws and Regulations
U.S. federal law refers to e-bikes as “low-speed electric bicycles.” To be more technical, they’re defined as “two- or three-wheeled vehicles with working pedals and an electric motor that’s less than 750 watts.”
Though legal throughout most of the U.S., individual states have the final say when it comes to whether you can ride freely. Generally speaking, e-bikes are treated like traditional bikes in most states when it comes to the what, where, and when to ride—as long as you’re respecting the traditional traffic codes that follow along with bicycling. However, because e-bikes sped onto the scene so quickly, some states are still catching up, making it extra important that you look into the rules and regulations of your state.
State Laws Regarding E-Bikes
Because e-bike laws vary by state, it’s important to research before you ride. A great resource to find information about e-bike regulations in your state is with our friends over at PeopleForBikes. Their site features a state-by-state grid of all 50 states (and D.C.) where you can click on your state to find current info about e-bike legislation. You can also visit your state’s government website and search for “e-bike” or “electric bike” for additional info.
Are There Specific Laws Restricting Kids From Riding E-Bikes?
Since there’s no one-size-fits all answer for the U.S., it’s best to reference your state’s laws. Some states like Alabama, Hawaii, and Alaska have age minimums.
Rules for Riding Off-Road With an E-Bike
E-bikes aren’t just for the roads, and the woom UP is designed to be taken for a spin on any terrain. But before your youngster puts tires to dirt, you’ll need to inform yourself on specific trail rules for electric mountain bikes, or e-MTBs. State and municipal parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife should all have current information available to the public about e-bikes on their lands. When in doubt, contact your local trail stewards for up-to-the-minute info.
E-bikes are gaining traction and have had a recent explosion in the biking realm for transportation and recreation, which means laws are catching up to define e-bikes in a category all their own. To help create favorable e-bike laws for the future, be sure to respect the current rules of the road. E-bikes allow for more independence and access to public spaces, and e-bike laws are ready to catch up to this supercharged trend.