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A new law took effect in 2020 authorizing the use and operation of bicycles with electric assist (E-Bike) and electric scooters (E-Scooter) on some streets and highways in New York State.

E-Bike and E-Scooter Definition

Bicycle with Electric Assist: Multiple classes of bicycles with an electric motor with lithium batteries that need recharging and care, and operable pedals. A bicycle with electric assist doesn’t qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, limited use motorcycle, moped, or ATV, and does not require insurance. A bicycle with electric assist is no more than 36 inches wide, has an electric motor up to 750 watts, is equipped with operable pedals, meeting the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and meeting the requirements of one out of three of the following three designated New York State classes of E-Bikes.

Electric Scooter: Every type of device weighing less than 100 hundred pounds that has handlebars, a floorboard or a seat that could be stood or sat upon by the operator, and an electric motor that can be powered by an electric motor and/or human power and which has a maximum speed of no more than 20 mph in New York State (15 mph in New York City).

E-Bikes Classes

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E-Bike Class 1:


Class one bicycles with electric assist have an electric motor that provides assistance only when the operator is pedaling, and ceases to provide assistance when the E-Bike reaches 20 mph.

E-Bike Class 2:


Class two bicycles with electric assist have an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle, and is not capable of providing assistance when such bicycle reaches 20 mph.

E-Bike Class 3:


For use in New York City only. Class three bicycles with electric assist have an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle, and is not capable of providing assistance when such bicycle reaches 25 mph.

Classification Label

By June 1, 2022, all E-Bikes and E-Scooters in New York State should have a manufacturer’s label prominently affixed to the E-Bike or E-Scooter with key classification information regarding the wattage of the electric motor, maximum speed with electric assist, and, if an E-Bike, whether it is classified as an E-Bike class 1, 2, or 3.

NOTE: Devices such as mopeds, electric skateboards, segways, hoverboards, and electric unicycles are not considered E-Bikes or E-Scooters and may be illegal to operate on the highways in New York State or subject to other laws or regulations.

Lawful Operation of E-Bikes and E-Scooters:

  • E-Bikes and E-Scooters are granted all of the rights and are subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle and the rider of a bicycle.
  • Operating an E-Bike or E-Scooter is not uniform throughout New York State as cities and towns have extensive local authority, including the ability to prohibit E-Bikes or E-Scooters, require helmets, or wear reflective clothing. Consult with your local jurisdiction if you have questions on laws and ordinances in your area.
  • Helmets are not always required, but are recommended. However, helmets are required for 16 and 17-year-olds operating an E-Scooter and Class 3 E-Bike operators in New York City.
  • Operators of E-Bikes and E-Scooters must be at least 16 years old.
  • E-Bike operators may carry passengers.
  • E-Bikes and E-Scooters are required to use bike lanes wherever possible, and cannot operate on roads with speed limits of over 30 mph.
  • When operating on trails or bike paths, consult with your local municipal or park authorities on their regulations, as they may differ.
  • You cannot operate E-Bikes or E-Scooters on sidewalks except as authorized by local law or ordinance.
  • E-Bike operators must ride in single file and cannot double up as traditional bicycles can.
  • E-Bikes are required to have a front white light and a rear red light after sunset.

Important Summary Points of the Law to Remember

E-Bikes and E-Scooters are faster and heavier than traditional pedal bikes and should be respected. New or returning operators of E-Bikes and E-Scooters are encouraged to practice in a safe environment in order to get comfortable with the power, controls and weight of their E-Bike or E-Scooter before operating in traffic. Be smart and safe. Learn to control your device before you get on the road.

To be legal, the maximum wattage of the electric assist motor of an E-Bike can be up to, and no more than, 750 watts. Note that manufacturers, particularly those who sell directly on-line, sometimes advertise and promote E-Bikes with a motor wattage and estimated maximum speed that exceeds the authorized limits within each E-Bike class. If you own or are contemplating owning an E-Bike whose electric assist motor watts and speed exceed the
specifications within each E-Bike class, then the E-Bike would not be legal to operate in New York State.

Be aware that E-Bikes and E-Scooters cannot be operated on roads with posted speed limits over 30 mph. Operating E-Bikes and E-Scooters on roads posted more than 30 mph is not legal and has implications as to where some operators may choose to ride.

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Read about how to ebike Safely here:

 

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