Ebikes are a relatively new technology. Governments around the world have taken various positions on Ebike and Electric Scooter legality. Daymak of Canada, for example, lists most of their vehicles as completely street legal because, in Canada, they are. Here in the United States, things are not so easy. Each state has (or sometimes, has not) made its own ebike and moped laws. Often, electric bicycles, electric scooters, and electric vehicles fall into legal grey areas that need explanation. Drumroll, please.
Electric Bicycles are as legal as non-electric bicycles in PA, so long as they are:
- 750 watts or less rated motor power
- 20 mph or less top speed on motor power only on a flat surface
- 100 lbs of less gross vehicle weight
- A rider over the age of 16
- Functional pedals
- Two or three wheels
Electric Bicycles in PA require:
- No license
- No insurance
- No registration
As such, they are great vehicles for many people due to low cost and maintenance. Folks who have lost or can’t get a driver’s license can ride an ebike without fear of conviction for driving without a license. Note that you can still get in lots of trouble for drinking and riding, or otherwise breaking laws on an ebike. (For the sake of the community and its future, we encourage all of our customers to use their bikes appropriately, so we can continue to build a solid and viable means of transportation.)
Electric bicycles that are over those limits but under these are Electric Mopeds:
- 1,118 watts or less rated motor power
- 25 mph or less top speed
- No manual transmission
- Rider must have a regular driver’s license, no motorcycle license required
- $9 registration
- Must have insurance
So, an electric scooter or illegally-powerful ebike is not a good option for someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license. People in that situation in Pennsylvania are fortunate that electric bikes are now an option.
I’m so sorry, New Jersey, I was fooled. I originally started excitedly listing ebikes and scooters as legal in the Garden State, albeit with moped registration and insurance requirements. Nope, nope, nope, nothing is as simple as it seems in the most densely populated state in the nation, and ebikes are no exception.
It turns out that ebikes are legal like scooters in concept, but when you go to register them you are told that they don’t meet the 50cc motor requirement, and thus cannot be registered.
Boo. We must wait for the state congress to update the law.
The state of New York bans electric bicycles from all roads, sidewalks, and highways. New York City has taken this a step further, regularly issuing large fines of up to $3,000 for using an ebike in the city, especially for deliveries.
Worse, the sale of ebikes is technically banned in NYC, though it doesn’t appear to be enforced.
Since we serve the tri-state area, I’ll keep this page updated with the status of the law. The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association is raising funds for legislative action if anyone is interested.
I’m personally stuck somewhere between “The obstacle in the way is the way” and “He who moves large mountains begins with small rocks.”
Yours in motion,