Like many other states and jurisdictions in America, New York state and New York City have had a somewhat fraught history of deciding what to do with electric bike laws. Thankfully the massive popularity of e-bikes amongst New Yorkers who started using them as their primary commuting vehicles and gig-worker food delivery workers put enough pressure on New York State to legalize them in April of 2020.
Here is a quick run-down of the current state of laws pertaining to operating an electric bike in the state of New York and New York City. One thing to keep in mind is that most smaller cities and towns outside of NYC will often have their own legislation that augments the enacted New York State Laws.
New York State
In New York State, electric bikes, electric skateboards, and electric scooters became legal in April 2020. This law does not recognize e-bikes as vehicles that require any sort of registration, so you can simply buy one of these products and ride them around.
The same bill included a provision to allow local jurisdictions to set additional regulations related to the operating of electric bikes. The same law defines Class 1, 2, and 3 electric bikes along the same lines as other North American cities. For the most part, e-bike riders have the same right and duties as non-electrified pedal-powered bikes do. The New York state law also requires that e-bikes be ridden on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or less, including bike lanes.
Here’s a run-down of other New York State’s e-bike laws:
- Electric bikes are permitted to carry additional passengers as long as there sufficient seating for them.
- You must be a minimum age of 16 to operate an electric bike.
- E-bike riders must ride single file – which is honestly a really strange quirk in this law since pedal bikes can ride two abreast.
- E-bikes in New York state are classified into three classes:
- Class 1 – defined as “pedal-assist” with a maximum speed of 20 mph
- Class 2 is defined as “throttle-assist” with a maximum speed of 20 mph
- Class 3 is defined as “throttle assist” with a maximum speed of 25 mph – these are only allowed in New York City.
- E-bikes are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks. This can come with a hefty fine.
- Helmets are required for all riders using Class 3 e-bikes
- All e-bike riders are required to wear a helmet if they are under the age of 18
- The penalty for riding an e-bike with a top speed of over 25 mph is $250. This frankly seems like a rather silly portion of the laws governing e-bike use in New York since no equivalent laws govern non-electrified bikes’ speed.
New York City
There are a few other laws and regulations that have been put into place in New York City.
- Commercial bike riders like delivery gig-work riders are required to wear helmets already, but any e-bikes capable of over 25 mph must have the rider wearing a helmet also
- NYC legalized e-bikes in June 2020.
- Class 1 assisted e-bikes that can travel up to 20 mph require the rider to have their feet on the pedals.
Now that you know what the laws for riding an electric bike in New York are, it’s time to seriously think about picking up that dream folding electric bike you’ve always wanted. Or maybe you’re not quite ready, and you need the various types of electric bikes explained. We’ve got a handy guide for that.