Making Class I E-bikes Legal in New York State

What is a Class I E-bike?

An E-bike is similar to a “traditional” human-powered bicycle, except that it includes a small, silent electric motor that provides pedal assistance and allows the rider to climb hills, accelerate, and overcome wind resistance more easily than a manually powered bicycle. In conformity with federal guidelines, a class I E-bike has a motor that will shut off when the bike reaches 20 miles per hour.

705658855What value do E-bikes provide to NYS residents?

  • An E-bike can allow individuals who have physical challenges to ride bikes, when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
  • E-bikes are a source of transportation for people who either don’t want to drive a car or cannot afford one; they are perfect for a sweat-free commute to work!
  • E-bikes reduce traffic congestion and create zero emissions, which makes them a green, environmentally sustainable mode of transportation.
  • Studies show that a Class I E-bike can provide at least 75% of the health and fitness benefit of a fully human-powered bicycle.
  • Legalizing E-bikes addresses equity issues. There are thousands of low-income people in New York State, both upstate and on Long Island — who would use e-bikeshare if offered in their communities where public transportation doesn’t exist or is too infrequent to be practical.
  • Legalizing E-bikes boosts our economy and increases sales tax. E-bikes are already being bought and sold in New York State, which means that they are contributing to the economy despite their not yet being street-legal. When they become legal, industry experts predict that sales will double. This is based on sales data from states that have passed legislation that would define E-bikes as bicycles. In those states, bike tourism is increasing, and local economies in struggling villages, towns and cities are benefiting.

How you can support the E-bike campaign

  1. Plan an E-bike demonstration ride. The NYBC staff and an E-bike dealer in your region can help you to show the community and local legislators how they work and why they’re important.
  2. Contact your local state representatives. Reach out to your Senator or Assembly member a to express your support for class I E-bikes to be defined as a bicycle by the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law. Visit these sites for more information about NYC (five boroughs) and areas outside NYC.
  3. Be part of our network! Individuals and organizations who are interested in bicycle/pedestrian issues, environmental sustainability, disability rights, safety, seniors, and others all have a stake in helping to pass this legislation! Help us grow our network by encouraging your local groups to sign on to this effort. Start by joining our email list ; NYBC will keep you abreast of where we are and what we’re doing.
  4. Contact your local bikeshare program. Ask them to consider adding an E-bike option to their offerings.
  5. Sign the petition. Your Voice Matters!
  6. Every bit counts. Please consider a targeted donation  to the NYBC E-bikes campaign.

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Helmet laws, E-bikeshares, age restrictions and other considerations

New York Bicycling Coalition has researched and explored many facets of proposed legislation around E-bikes, as it’s important that any related laws complement E-bike use.

Options for low income individuals using E-bikeshare: NYBC strongly encourages E-bikeshare to offer options that align with the purchasing trends of low-income communities, including financial assistance and cash fare options similar to programs proposed in Washington, D. C. and Providence, Rhode Island.

Age restrictions: NYBC favors an E-bike bill with no age restriction for either passenger or rider, since we know that many parents use E-bikes to transport their children. Class I E-bikes do not travel at dangerously high speeds; in fact, they don’t travel much faster than human-powered bicycles, so an age restriction is not necessary.

Helmet laws and communities of color: While NYBC strongly encourages all bicycle riders to wear a helmet every time they ride bikes, it’s our position that we need to educate, not legislate. Helmet laws could result in unnecessary interactions with law enforcement, and we would rather educate riders so that they are choosing to wear helmets for safety.

E-bikes can become legal in New York State, but we need all enthusiasts to be part of the effort.
Please consider contacting your legislators today!