Electric Powered Bike Laws: What You Need to Know

A girl rides on ebike

If you’re considering purchasing an electric-powered bike, one of the first questions you may have is, “Where can I ride it?” Ebikes, as they are commonly called, are fairly new to the world of two-wheeled transportation and trying to figure out the rules and regulations surrounding them can be confusing. The main reason for the confusion is that there isn’t just one consistent law that covers ebike riding in all states.

If you have an ebike, or you’re interested in learning more about them, the biking enthusiasts at Leeds is here to shed a little more light on the baffling world of ebike laws. Read our post below and then check out our website to shop all of our electric-powered bikes and ebike kits.

Problem #1: There Are No Consistent Ebike Laws Across All 50 States

When you drive your car across the country for a summer road trip or a family vacation, you don’t have to look up the driving laws each time you cross the state line. While each state may differ in how they regulate speed limits, texting while driving, and have different penalties for violating certain laws, some things are consistent.

For instance, every person operating a car knows they should have a valid driver’s license, or at least a learning permit, as well as license plates, insurance, and registration. It’s also common knowledge that when you take your bicycle out for a ride, you aren’t subject to these same requirements. So, where does an ebike fit in? The answer may lie in how they are classified.

Why We Need Consistent Ebike Laws

What would traveling down the highway look like if we didn’t have consistent rules and regulations for how we drive cars? There might be people driving that aren’t licensed or qualified. Some people might be driving on the shoulder or driving through the median. Many people may choose not to dive at all because they consider the experience dangerous or they aren’t sure what’s allowed and what isn’t.

Now, consider riding an electric-powered bike. Because they are a type of hybrid — both human-powered and powered by a motor, many people are confused about how they should be regulated. Do you need to have a license and registration like a motorcycle? Can you ride them on the road, or do you have to stay in a bike lane or on a trail? Many people miss out on the joy of riding an electric bike simply because they don’t know or understand the laws surrounding them.

Clearly defined regulations are needed not only for people to understand the rules of operation, but they are also needed for the safety of riders and pedestrians, as well as other traffic. Does it sound like a good idea to allow children under the age of 16 to be able to ride an ebike that goes almost 30 miles per hour without a helmet? For most people, the answer is “no”. That’s why consistent ebike classification and applicable laws are so important.

Creating a Classification System

One reason why electric-powered bikes are difficult to regulate is that there are many different kinds and there is quite a bit of variation in the speed they can go. Some electric bikes top out at 20 miles per hour, while others can reach speeds closer to 30 miles per hour. Although this might not seem like much of a difference on paper, when you’re riding down the road or on a trail, the difference that a few miles per hour can make is huge — not only for the rider but for the safety of the other traffic and pedestrians around you.

To support the creation of safe and consistent laws, many states have started to implement a classification system for ebikes so that each can be regulated differently. This means a bike that goes a maximum of 20 miles per hour will be treated differently than one that goes almost 30 miles per hour.

The classification of ebikes is being supported through groups like PeopleForBikes as a way to improve a system that currently lacks consistency and creates significant confusion for consumers and retailers in the electric bicycle market. You can read more here about which states are adopting the classification system.

How To Know Which Laws Apply To You

Until there are more uniform laws and adequate time to educate the public, the best thing to do if you’re interested in riding an ebike is to look up the current laws for your state. You can do this through a general internet search, or reference the PeopleforBikes page that contains a link to the ebike regulations for each state.

Join the Electric-Powered Bike Craze!

When it comes to ebikes, there’s one for sure — they aren’t going away any time soon, and their popularity continues to rise exponentially each year. If you’re new to the world of electric bikes, you might not want to invest in a brand new bike from the start. Lucky for you, Leeds is the premier supplier of ebike kits, parts, and accessories. Ebike kits are a great option that allows you to convert your existing bike to an electric powered bicycle in a short time and for just a fraction of the cost of a new bike. Check out our website for an abundance of helpful information that will assist you in finding the right kit for you!


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