One of the best tools in the e-bike rider’s toolkit is knowledge. Knowledge about different bike features via e-bike comparison guides. Knowledge about general e-bike maintenance. And, of course, knowledge about the specific laws that govern e-bike use.
Some riders may inadvertently believe that e-bikes are governed just like traditional bicycles and, therefore, require no additional thought. However, while e-bikes and traditional bikes offer similar exercise options and functionality, they are considered different modes of transportation in the eyes of the U.S. government. To keep riders, drivers, and pedestrians safe, the federal, state, and local governments have put rules and regulations in place for e-bikes.
As the e-bike market evolves and introduces new technologies for consumers to enjoy, we can be sure that additional laws will be introduced, and some existing laws may be updated. For this reason, it is important to always stay abreast of the latest regulations for electric bikes in your state. To assist in this research, we’ve compiled the latest news and laws in each of the top five most popular U.S. states. Be sure to check multiple sources of information often, as this data is only current as of autumn 2022.
General E-bike Laws in the United States
Before delving into the particulars of each state, we should note that e-bike laws follow a general framework in the United States. There are specific topics you will want to check, no matter which state you live in. It is likely that your state will have some guidance for topics such as helmet requirements, speed limits, and minimum age restrictions.
Furthermore, it is relevant that the Federal Consumer Product Safety Act has a definition for e-bikes which many of the states have built their policies around. This helps to understand exactly what the government considers to be an electric bicycle. The definition is a “low-speed electric bicycle” with fully operable pedals and a max. speed of 20 miles per hour when being powered by the motor only (no pedaling). The Product Safety Act also states that the motor may only create less than or equal to 750 watts of power.
The great news about all Himiway brand e-bikes is that they conform to this definition above and are currently shipped as Class Two ebikes. Many states follow a three-class system when categorizing electric bikes. Class One e-bikes stop assisting riders at 20mph and do not contain a throttle. Class Two e-bikes, like the Himiway Zebra, for example, stop assisting riders at 20mph with help from the motor, but they do have a throttle (note: when pedaling with the throttle, it is possible for riders to legally achieve speeds of greater than 20mph). Finally, Class Three e-bikes have a maximum speed of 28mph with pedal assist active and generally may not have a throttle.
E-bike Laws in California
Sunny California is home to plenty of e-bikers. Ride lawfully by following the following e-bike regulations. E-bikes in California are conveniently treated just like traditional bikes. Bike lanes and bike paths are open to all Class 1 and Class 2 ebikes. Class 3 ebikes require pathways or lanes marked specifically as Class 3.
For Class 3 bikes, all riders must wear a helmet, must be 16 years or older, and no passengers are allowed on the bike. Class 1 and 2 ebikes do not have an age limit, but riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet on either class.
There are no special licensing, registrations, or insurance needed in California so remember to enjoy the palm trees, sandy beaches, and views of the Pacific Ocean on your e-bike ride.
E-bike Laws in Texas
The Lonestar state is home to plenty of electric bike riders. Riders may enjoy the warm sun, sprawling plains, and gorgeous desertscapes that mark the Texas frontier by following these laws. Only ride on trails marked for motorized vehicles. If the trail says, “no motorized vehicles allowed,” you may not ride your e-bike on that trail. However, riding your ebike in the road or in bike lanes is perfectly legal in Texas, provided you are following all standard bicycle and traffic laws.
The only age limit in Texas is for Class 3 bikes which require the rider to be 15 or older. Helmets are required for all riders under 18. There is no special licensing, registration, or insurance needed in Texas for e-biking.
E-bike Laws in Florida
The recent House Bill 971 in Florida provides the rights and privileges of electric bicycles and operators. The great news is that e-bikes are allowed to be taken where traditional bicycles are allowed. Bike labels are required in Florida to show that your bike conforms to the power requirements of a Class 1, 2, or 3 e-bike if the e-bike was manufactured after January 1, 2021.
There is no age requirement for using an e-bike in Florida anymore, and helmets are not required for any age, although, Himiway always recommends the use of a good quality ebike helmet. No licensing, insurance or registrations are required for e-bikes any longer. Because of the high amount of tourism in Florida, e-bikes and traditional bicycles are usually not allowed on sidewalks, so check with your local city ordinances for more information on where to ride in The Sunshine State.
E-bike Laws in New York
Riding around New York ebike routes can be a joyous experience and is easier than ever before. Interestingly, New York treats ebikes the same way they do bicycles as long as they have a motor of less than 750watts of power. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, you may operate an ebike on roads with a posted speed limit of 30mph or less, but you may not operate them on any sidewalks. Electric bikes may not be registered in New York, and no special licensing or insurance rules apply. Another interesting law is that at least one hand of the rider’s must be on the handlebar at all times. The minimum age limit for riding in New York is 16 years or older.
E-bike Laws in Pennsylvania
The rolling hills of Pennsylvania are perfect for e-biking with a fat tire electric mountain bike, no matter the season. The latest ebike laws state that no riders under the age of 16 may operate an electric bike. Helmets are not required by any riders, and ebikes are allowed on some sidewalks, but it will vary from city to city. If the trail or path is open to both motorized vehicles and non-motorized vehicles, electric bikes may be used on it. We are also pleased to report that Class 1 ebikes are allowed on bike trails inside state parks in PA. As always, e-bikers must follow all the same traffic and riding rules as traditional bikers here.
Staying informed on e-bike laws is always a smart thing to do, and now you are armed with more knowledge about the e-bike laws in these five popular U.S. States. Happy riding!