The rules for riding electric bikes can be difficult to follow, especially if you are not always up to date on the latest local legal news. However, it is important to know the rules before you head out on public roads and trails. This is especially true in New York City where it was illegal to ride an electric bike until recently. Since November 2020, the following have been the rules.
Classes of Electric Bikes
Like other jurisdictions, electric bikes are broken into three classes. These are based on the powertrain of your bike. It doesn’t matter if you have an electric beach cruiser fat tire bike or a hybrid commuter, all that matters is the top speed and throttle type.
These electric bikes have a top speed of 20 miles per hour or less and no throttle. The motor only serves to assist the rider with pedaling. They are usually simple to operate and relatively slow. Riders of class one bike are all recommended to have helmets. Minors must wear them.
These bikes have a throttle that can move the bike without pedaling. The top speed must be 20 miles per hour or less. These can be a little more challenging to use due to the throttle. Helmets are required for minors riding these eBikes but only recommended for adults.
The final class is bikes that can use a throttle up to 25 miles per hour. They can have operable pedals and a pedal-assist mode. These are the fastest bikes as defined by NYC laws. Helmets are required for riders of all ages.
Regardless of the class of your electric bike, you can only ride in bike lanes or on streets with speed limits of 30 miles per hour or less. Additionally, eBikes do not need to be registered and you don’t need a license to ride them. These are relatively simple rules that make riding an electric bike in New York City easy.
Only people who are 16 years of age or older may ride electric bikes. There can be some special rules for 16- and 17-year-olds.
All riders should practice safe riding habits. This includes following the rules of the road. It is also advisable to have an appropriate electric bike. For example, if you are short, get an electric bike for small person. An improperly sized bike can be a hazard.
Bikes Faster Than 25 Miles Per Hour
The above rules leave a big open question: what about bikes that can go faster than 25 miles per hour? Some bikes can hit 30 miles per hour with pedal assist mode. It is not fully clear whether these are considered class three bikes or just banned outright. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to keep your speed to 25 miles per hour or less, even if your bike can do better. Also, make sure to follow the rules for allowable paths.
Learn More Today
Discover more about riding electric bikes in New York City today. Fortunately, the laws are fairly easy to understand and follow.