Yes Ebikes Are Legal!

There’s a myth out there from some non ebike owners who think that ebikes are illegal.

They are completely wrong of course.

The Boston Gloge has a good article on this topic.

In Massachusetts, e-bikes are categorized as mopeds and prohibited on bike paths, though bike advocates say the law is largely unenforced.

Now, some lawmakers are pushing a bill that would bring the state in line with 46 others and Washington, D.C., in regulating the very expensive but increasingly popular e-bikes as bikes.

Thirty-six states have adopted a three-class system to categorize e-bikes, according to the organization People for Bikes, which tracks e-bike legislation. The system allows municipalities to regulate e-bikes further, based on the classes. Lawmakers on Beacon Hill say that’s what they are mulling.

Class 1 e-bikes are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the e-bike reaches at most 20 miles per hour. Class 2 e-bikes have a throttle-activated motor, meaning they do not require pedaling, and stop providing assistance when the e-bike reaches at most 20 miles per hour. And Class 3 e-bikes assist a rider only while pedaling, but stop helping at a max of 28 miles per hour.

Only 4 states right now classify bikes as “motor vehicles”. That will likely change soon as all states change with the times.

NOTE: the “People for Bikes” coalition has some great resources on the subject of ebike laws and classification. Check it out.

From my research ebikes are allowed in almost every park state and federal. In my travels I have only seen a “No ebikes” sign once, it was on a small conservation trail in Connecticut. 

See also  Greater Boston Cities Expand Ebike Sharing with New Bluebikes

The Global article says that even if ebikes are considered motor vehicles that the law around that is unenforceable. Any one with common sense can see that an ebike is just a bike.

There are some things to note however. E-Mopends and E-dirt bikes are much faster than Class 1 or Class 2 ebikes so they should never be used on rail trails where other pedestrians and bikers travel. That is a recipe fo disaster. 

Bosh which makes motors for ebikes has a good article on the Class 1/2/3 system and a map of how each state treats ebikes.

(Image credit: Bosch)

If you own an ebike just obey the bike rules on your trail and you’ll be fine. Ebikes are here to stay and eventually those non believers will come around. 

Stay safe my ebike friends!