After very recent changes to state law, most Electric Bikes are now legal in New York. This is great news as E-Bikes are rising in popularity. They’re loved by commuters, delivery workers, and everyone who hates New York traffic.
Legal Disclaimer: We are not giving legal advice and you shouldn’t take this as the law. This is just a collection and summation based on what we interpret from local laws. We aim to keep it up to date but can’t guarantee anything.
Are Electric Bikes Legal In New York?
Yes – Electric Bikes are now legal to own and ride in New York. In June of 2020, a new E-Bike bill was voted into place. There are certain restrictions but essentially E-Bikes are legal across the state and in the city. Read the full rules and regulations below.
What Class Electric Bikes Are Allowed In New York?
In recent changes, all classes of Electric Bikes are now allowed in New York City with the rest of the state only allowing Class 1 and 2. The classes are also slightly different from the recommended three classes.
The main difference is that in the state of New York a class 3 E-Bike is defined as being limited to a top assisted speed of 25 mph. That differs from the 28 mph top speed that a normally defined Class 3 E-Bike can reach. Why 25 instead of 28 was chosen is a mystery – hopefully it will change.
Class 3 E-Bikes in New York City are also not limited to being Pedal Assist or Throttle as the law makes no specific definition. They are defined in the other classes so it does seem like a purposely decision to allow both for Class 3.
Class 1 E-Bikes are Pedal Assist up to 20 mph. Class 2 E-Bikes are Throttle powered up to 20m mph. These are the only two classes allowed outside of New York City. The law specifically states Class 3 as being allowed “solely within a city having a population of one million or more” aka NYC.
750 Watts is the max power allowed for all classes – as is standard for most E-Bike laws. The bike must be no more than 36 inches wide and must have operable pedals. It also needs a label with the class, speed, and watt power. There is no restriction on the type of battery.
Importantly, local laws and regulations can be applied to change anything about these laws. So local areas could allow and raise that speed limit on Class 3’s and let E-Bikes use any path they’d like – if they decide to.
For more on Class 1, 2 + 3 read – What Are Electric Bike Classes?
Top Watt Power For Electric Bikes In New York
All the classes of Electric Bike in New York can be up to 750 Watts in power.
How Fast Can Electric Bikes Go In New York?
Class 1 and 2 E-Bikes are limited to 20 mph. Class 3 E-Bikes are limited to 25 mph in New York instead of the normal 28 mph. All classes are limited to riding on roads with 30 limits or lower.
Do You Need A License Or Plate For E-Bikes In New York?
No, you don’t need a license and don’t need to register an electric bike with the DMV in New York. That also means to license plate – though you still need a label on the bike with its top speed, class, and Watt power.
Do You Need Insurance For E-Bikes In New York?
There is nothing requiring you to get insurance for an Electric Bike in New York. It’s definitely worth it though. You can buy specific Electric Bike insurance to cover you for personal liability, accident cover, theft, damage, and more.
What Is The Electric Bike Minimum Age in New York?
The minimum age to ride an Electric Bike in New York is 16. The minimum age for passengers is 1. This applies to all classes of E-Bike.
Do You Have To Wear A Helmet When Riding An Electric Bike In New York?
All riders of a Class 3 E-Bike must wear a helmet. All riders under 14 must also wear a helmet. There is a fine of $50 if you don’t.
The full text reads “wearing a helmet means having a properly fitting helmet fixed securely on the head of such wearer with the helmet straps securely fastened“.
Can Electric Bikes Carry Passengers In New York?
Yes, E-Bikes can carry passengers as long as there is a passenger seat – just like with normal bikes. The seat has to be a proper seat, not a rack. No backies…
The passenger must be over 1 year of age and the helmet regulation still applies to those under 14.
Are E-Bike Laws Different To Standard Bicycle Laws In New York?
Yes. E-Bike riders aren’t allowed to go on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or over and are more limited on the places they can ride. You also can’t ride side by side – two abreast – and must go single file.
You still need to abide by the standard consumer laws (and so do sellers) and still need a brake, bell/horn, a front, and rear light as well as reflectors on wheels. You also have to yield to walkers in all situations even though bicyclists don’t always have to.
Are Throttle Electric Bikes Legal In New York?
Yes, it is now legal to use a throttle to power an Electric Bike in New York. As long as you stick to classes 2 or 3 you can use a throttle. Previously this was completely illegal in New York but the law was updated.
Do You Need A Speedometer On Electric Bikes In New York?
No, there is no specific requirement for E-Bikes to have a speedometer or speedo readout in New York state or city.
Is There A Weight Limit For E-Bikes In New York?
No there is no weight limit for riders, passengers, or cargo on E-Bikes. We imagine that a cargo limit might get put into place if people start getting ridiculous with what they try and transport on an E-Bike.
Can You Get Fined For Riding An Electric Bike In New York?
In previous years commuters and delivery drivers in New York City were getting fines of up to $500 for riding their E-Bikes. Some were even getting their bikes confiscated by city policy.
This was because up until recently only a strict set of E-Bikes (Class 1, pedal only, up to 20mph) were allowed. Even then the police had been instructed to be very involved in stopping, checking, and fining.
Things have now changed and as long as you are staying within the new rules you should be fine. The main issue is Class 3 E-Bikes must have a top speed of 25 mph compared to the 28 mph that other Class 3’s are sold as. Check if there’s a NY model or mode before you buy.
You can get fined $250 for operating a prohibited device but that’s down from $500, and many more bikes are now allowed. You can also get fined $50 for not wearing a helmet or if a child you’re responsible for doesn’t – that’s the same as standard bikes.
Drinking / Drug Laws For E-Bikes In New York
There is a specific penalty for biking while intoxicated on an electric bike – though there isn’t the same specifically for normal bikes. The fine is a minimum of $300 and up to $500, and/or 15 days in jail.
Fines and jail time rise per incident. You can get a misdemeanor for it and the standard breath test of 0.8 BAC is applied as well as “visible intoxication”. You must report all crashes/incidents.
Where Is It Legal To Ride An Electric Bike In New York?
The new state law defines where E-Bikes can and cannot be ridden. However, local areas are allowed to change any of these rules. If you think your area should allow E-Bikes on certain roads or trails, contact your representative.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike On The Sidewalk In New York?
By default no you can’t ride an electric bike on a sidewalk in New York. Technically they’re not allowed so it could be argued legally that parking an E-Bike on a sidewalk isn’t OK. Hopefully this will be clarified in another law update.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike On The Road In New York?
Yes, you can ride electric bikes on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less only.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike In Bike Lanes In New York?
Yes, you can ride in bike lanes i.e. the lane at the side of the road normal bicycles are supposed to use.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike On Bike Paths In New York?
For bike paths it isn’t completely clear. The Hudson River Greenway has a specific ban on electric motor vehicles like E-Bikes and motorized scooters.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike On Trails In New York?
Trail access wasn’t included in the updates to E-Bike law, though they weren’t specifically banned. So it seems to be a no for E-Bikes on trails unless the specific trail say it’s OK.
Can You Ride Electric Bikes In National and State Parks In New York?
The latest law specifically bans all classes of E-Bike from being ridden in New York State Parks.
All classes of Electric Bike are allowed in all National Parks wherever normal bicycles are allowed. National Parks are governed by the National Park Service (not the state) who are given jurisdiction over E-Bike use.
However, the intent is that E-Bikes should be used (pedaled) like regular bicycles, and exclusive use of a throttle for all riding is prohibited. Put simply you should be pedaling all of the time, though a little throttle use is OK.
Some parks do have their own restrictions so check the specific park you’d like to visit. National Forests also have their own jurisdiction and often restrict Electric Bikes.
Are DIY E-Bikes Legal In New York
Yes, DIY E-Bikes are legal in New York. That means you can build your own from scratch, add a kit to an existing bike, or modify your Electric Bike for more power, a bigger battery, or better software.
However, you must still stay within the State’s Class system and guidelines, as well as follow standard bike safety laws.
You’ll also need to affix a new permanent label with the new class, top assisted speed, and watt power. The label must be in Arial font of at least 9-point type.
Full Electric Bike Laws In New York
The full relevant E-Bike law changes for New York are here though they aren’t easy to read. Copy the following text and search for it in the document with Control + F – § 102-c.
You can also read about the changes made here on page 376.
The press release which covers the main changes proposed to the law on June 26th, 2020 is here. This was the altered bill that got passed on the same day.
The New York DMV information on registration can be found here.