New York State is best known for the NYC skyline: The Empire State Building, Lady Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge are just a few sights people from all over the world recognize. However, New York also has a lot of stunning natural scenery, from the Adirondack Mountains to the Atlantic Coast beaches.
Whether you want to explore the Big Apple or dive into the wilderness, an electric bicycle is a great way to see New York’s many sights. Before you ride, take a moment to learn local e-bike laws. This guide to New York e-bike laws can get you started.
E-bike laws in New York state
New York State has general legislation governing the use of e-bikes. There are also local ordinances in some counties or cities (more on that to come). Remember that e-bike laws can change — this information is current as of February 2023.
What class of e-bikes are legal in New York state?
New York State law classifies e-bikes into three categories. These classes of e-bikes differ in terms of motor power and whether they offer throttle assist or pedal assist.
- Class 1 e-bikes. These reach maximum speeds of 20 miles per hour (mph). They have an electric motor that provides pedal assist but only when the cyclist is pedaling.
- Class 2 e-bikes. These can’t go more than 20 mph. In addition to having pedal assist, they also have throttle assist, which can propel the bike forward even when you aren’t pedaling.
- Class 3 e-bikes. These can go faster than their low-speed counterparts, reaching up to 25 mph. In New York, Class 3 e-bikes can have pedal assist and throttle assist. (Note that the 25 mph top speed limit is unique from the industry-defined maximum speed of 28 mph for Class 3 e-bikes).
Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed throughout the state. Class 3 e-bikes are allowed only in New York City.
Where are you allowed to ride e-bikes in New York state?
You can operate a bicycle or scooter with electric assist on New York State roadways and highways with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. You aren’t allowed to operate your e-bike on sidewalks.
Also, be aware that local municipalities may have their own rules and restrictions on e-bike use.
How old do you have to be to ride an e-bike in New York state?
New York State’s electric bike law requires you to be at least 16 years of age to ride an e-bike. The good news? You don’t have to pass any licensing exam to ride once you meet the minimum age.
E-bike laws in New York City
As the fastest-growing city for bike commuting, New York City has its own rules for using an e-bike, some of which may differ from the broader state laws. Here’s an overview:
Are e-bikes allowed in New York City?
Yes, e-bikes are allowed in New York City (Class 1, 2, and 3, in line with the state’s definitions described above).
You can ride any class of e-bike in bike lanes or streets intended for motor vehicles with speed limits not exceeding 30 mph unless otherwise noted.
Do you need a helmet when riding an e-bike in New York City?
New York City requires helmets for all “working cyclists” aged 16 and 17 (such as delivery drivers) when riding Class 1 or Class 2 e-bikes. Helmets are also required for all Class 3 e-bike riders, regardless of age.
Learn more about helmet laws and how to find a helmet that fits.
In addition to wearing a helmet, we recommend wearing reflective clothing when cycling. You can further ensure safety when cycling by checking your bike is well-maintained and properly fitted (for example, checking that you’ve properly adjusted the handlebars and seat).
Do you need a license for an e-bike in New York City?
There’s no need to get a license to use an electric bike in New York City (this is unique from mopeds, which require one). You also don’t have to register your e-bike with the local DMV or get insurance (but e-bike insurance is a good idea).
Local ordinances for e-bikes in New York
E-bike laws vary between municipalities, so you should consult the local authority (like the DMV or police department) before cycling.
Even within a city, rules can vary. For example, in Brooklyn, there’s a complete e-bike ban in Prospect Park.
New York is best explored with a Velotric e-bike
Explore the Empire State like a true New Yorker with a pedal-assist e-bike from Velotric.
For exploring cosmopolitan areas like Manhattan, we recommend the Discover 1. Meanwhile, off-road adventures are best left to the fat-tire Nomad 1 (find out why fat tires are better for rugged terrain).
Both bikes have a 48V 14.4Ah battery that charges completely in six hours. A full charge will give you a range of 55 miles on the Nomad 1 and 65 miles on the Discover 1 (the Nomad 1 is a bit heavier, so the range is less).
Whichever model you choose, you can ride in comfort thanks to features like pedal assist, throttle assist, and hydraulic disc brakes. Velotric’s bike frames also come in a high-step or step-through model so that you can choose the style most comfortable for you.