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New York Electronic Bike Laws

While New York is famous for its metropolitan city of the same name, New York City is famous for its traffic snarls. It’s what gave rise to another point of city fame, the bicycle messenger industry, as well as the thousands of food and other types of pedal-propelled delivery services. While New York ebike laws ban electronic bikes, the City of New York does allow some use. Here’s a closer look at what types of e-bikes are acceptable.

E-Bikes on State Roads

E bike laws in New York take the stance that “motor-driven bicycles,” as classified by the state, must meet the same license, registration and insurance requirements as motor vehicles. The state Department of Motor Vehicles does not recognize the bikes as vehicles, however, and cannot undertake licensing and registration of each e-bike. Therefore, the DMV thus bans the use of them on all roads, including highways, sidewalks and parking lots. It is illegal to ride an electric cruiser bike in any area that is also available to motor vehicles throughout the state.

E-Bikes in NYC

New York City has taken steps to “clarify” the law, interpreting it to allow some wiggle room for those in the bike-oriented delivery services and commuters. The city’s interpretation of e bike laws upholds the ban on those that can reach speeds above 20 mph. However, it does allow pedal-assist bikes, which generally move at reduced speeds, to legally travel its streets. That’s good news for the city’s estimated 800,000 bicyclists, as well as those aiming to reduce congestion and pollution.

State Regulations to Follow

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still New York electric bike laws to follow, in both the city and the state. Here is an overview of the regulations:

  • The state defines electric bikes as those with a small, attached motor
  • All riders of motorized bikes must wear helmets
  • Riders must follow all traffic laws, stopping at lights and stop signs, as well as yields
  • Carrying a baby under 12 months of age as a passenger is illegal
  • Earphones or earbuds can be used in only one ear while riding
  • Riders must keep a hand on the handlebars at all times
  • Clinging to other vehicles is not allowed
  • All bicycles must have working brakes

In addition to these regulations, e-bikes must follow the same rules as other bicycles. These guidelines include having reflectors, headlights, bells or other audible signals, and other safety features.

Browsing E-Bikes

If you’re browsing e bikes for sale and weighing an investment in one of these environmentally friendly machines, consider how you want to use it. If you want it for getting around NYC, you should look at pedal-assisted bikes. If your interest is more for recreational use, know that New York ebike laws vary between local, county, state and federal trails. Narrow your focus to areas you plan to use most and check with the agencies in charge about regulations.

E-bikes are an excellent option for getting into and around the city, and enjoying the greater state too, Your e-bike dealer can help you find and customize one that fits your lifestyle.


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