Electric Bike Laws by State

Electric Bike Laws by State

Electric bikes continue to rise in popularity as a fun, convenient, and green option for motorized travel. As more e-bikes hit the road, new state laws are written to ensure safe travel for everyone. However, electric bike laws can be tricky to keep up with as they vary from state to state. 


We gathered statistics from all 50 states and researched how lawmakers across the nation are defining e-bikes. In this article, we will discuss our findings and share a comprehensive compilation of e-bike laws from around the country.

What is an electric bike?

As e-bikes are relatively new and come in different varieties, there is no standard definition of electric bikes. With various types of motors and multiple levels of pedal assistance, e-bikes are often defined by law with a three-class system.

What are the three classes of e-bikes?
  • Class 1: A motorized bicycle that only provides assistance when the e-bike rider is pedaling and has a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph
  • Class 2: A throttle-assisted motorized bicycle with a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph
  • Class 3: A motorized bicycle that only provides assistance when the e-bike rider is pedaling and has a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph

Classification laws tell cyclists what they can ride and where. These guidelines vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local ordinances before purchasing an e-bike and taking it for a spin. Does your state use a three-class system or not? Let’s see.

Which states use the three-class system?

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia use the three-class system for e-bike classification: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The thirteen states who don’t use the three-class system define electric bikes as follows:

  • Alaska: A motor-driven cycle
  • Hawaii: A low-speed electric bicycle as detailed in 15 U.S. Code § 2085
  • Kansas: An electric-assisted bicycle with two or three wheels, a seat, fully operative pedals, and an electric motor; The electric motor must have a power output of no more than 1,000 watts and not propel or assist over 20 mph on level ground.
  • Kentucky: A bicycle must have operable pedals.
  • Massachusetts: A motorized bicycle (either a pedal bicycle with a helper motor or a non-pedal bicycle with a motor) with a maximum cylinder capacity of 50 cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and a maximum speed of 30 mph on level ground
  • Montana: An e-bike or electrically assisted bicycle with two operational pedals and an attached motor that propels the bicycle and a 170-pound rider no faster than 20 mph on level ground
  • Nebraska: A bicycle with two or three wheels, fully operative pedals, and an electric motor with a maximum capacity of 750 watts that can propel the bicycle at a maximum speed of 20 mph on level ground
  • New Mexico: A moped with two or three wheels, an automatic transmission, and a motor having a piston displacement of less than 50 cubic centimeters with a maximum speed of 30 mph on level ground
  • North Carolina: An electric-assisted bicycle with two or three wheels, a seat, fully operable pedals, and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts with a maximum speed of 20 mph on a level surface
  • Oregon: An electric-assisted bicycle designed to be operated on the ground on two or three wheels with a seat, operable pedals, and an electric motor of no more than 1,000 watts with a maximum speed of 20 mph on level ground
  • Pennsylvania: A pedalcycle with electric assist weighing a maximum of 100 pounds with two or three wheels larger than 11 inches in diameter, operable pedals, and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts and a maximum speed of 20 mph on a level surface
  • Rhode Island: An electric motorized bike propelled by human power or electric motor power, or both, with an electric motor no more than 2 horsepower and a maximum speed of 25 mph on level ground
  • South Carolina: An electric assist bicycle or bicycle with a helper motor and two or three wheels, operable pedals, and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts; maximum motor-powered speed of 20 mph when operated on a paved level surface by a rider weighing 170 pounds; the electric motor must disengage or cease to function when the brakes are applied or the rider stops pedaling. Electric assist bicycles are not mopeds.

Do I need a license for an e-bike?

Most states do not require a driver’s license to operate an e-bike, but a handful do. However, many state and local authorities are only beginning to write electric bicycle laws into their vehicle codes. As such, you should always check with your local department of motor vehicles before riding your e-bike.

Do I need a license to operate an electric bike?

States that require an operator’s license to operate an electric bicycle:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

What is the age requirement to operate an electric bicycle?

Each state has different e-bike age requirements, and some don’t have any age requirements at all. As many e-bike laws are still being legislated, check with your local department of motor vehicles before heading out on the roadways.

What is the minimum age to operate an electric bike?

States with a minimum age requirement of 14 for e-bikes:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia

States with a minimum age requirement of 15 for electric bicycles:

  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

States with a minimum age requirement of 16 for electric bikes:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

States with a minimum age requirement of 18 for e-bikes:

  • South Carolina

States with no age requirement for electric bicycles:

  • Arizona
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Wyoming

Do I need to register my electric bike?

Most states do not require e-bike riders to register their electric bicycle, but some do. Again, e-bike laws continue to be updated, so always check with local authorities before pedaling into the bike lanes.

Do I need to register my electric bike?

 

States that require e-bike registration:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Do I have to wear a helmet on an e-bike?

Before addressing the laws of helmet wearing, we firmly believe you should always wear a helmet when riding any bicycle, moped, or scooter. Wearing a helmet while riding an e-bike is especially important if you plan on cycling on the roadways with motor vehicles — in the case of an accident, a helmet can save your life. Even on bike paths, helmets are essential to protect e-bike riders from accidents caused by bumpy pathways or inattentive riders.

As for state laws and legal rules of the road, things vary from state to state. A little over half of U.S. states require e-bike riders to wear a helmet at least sometimes, and about a dozen require it all the time.

Do I need to wear a helmet on my electric bike?

States that ALWAYS require a helmet when riding an electric bicycle:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

States that SOMETIMES require a helmet when riding an electric bicycle:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont

Refer to your local bicycle laws for specifics on when and where you must wear a helmet.

States that DO NOT require a helmet when riding an e-bike:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Can I ride my e-bike on the sidewalk?

Most states do not let e-bikes on the sidewalk, but a handful allow it. As always, check your local e-bike laws for the most current regulations, and when in doubt, stick to the bike paths as the safest routes.

Can I ride my electric bike on the sidewalk?

States where you CAN ride your e-bike on the sidewalk:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

States where you can SOMETIMES ride your e-bike on the sidewalk:

  • California
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • Texas

Refer to local bicycle laws for specifics on when and where you may bike on the sidewalk.

States where you CANNOT ride your electric bicycle on the sidewalk:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Remember to obey all speed limits and traffic lights when riding on roadways, and always use appropriate signals.

Ride safely and comfortably with Velotric Bike

Whether you use your e-bike to commute to work or cruise around for fun, it’s imperative to understand the laws governing electric bikes. As e-bike laws continue to be written and evolve, e-bike riders should stay abreast of changing regulations to ensure compliance. Once you’re confident that you’re legally operating your electric bike, you can breeze down every bicycle path knowing you have nothing to worry about.

We hoped this makes the legality of riding ebikes clearer for you! If you’re looking for a great ride at a great price, we would –of course– recommend our own Velotric bikes.

Methodology

The data for this study was collected from People4Bikes in November 2022. Additional electric bike definitions for states who do not use the three-class system were summarized directly from state codes.

Fair Use Statement

Do you have e-bike friends in other states who could use this easy-reference law guide? Feel free to share this article with anyone you’d like. We just ask that you do so for noncommercial purposes only and provide a link back to this page to give the authors their due credit.


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