Electric bikes or e-bikes are bicycles that contain an electric motor so that you can pedal when you want and wind it up with throttle when going uphill. In New York, more and more people are switching from regular bikes to electric bicycles due to the added convenience, personal health benefits, and more. But the challenge is that not everyone knows the New York state electric bike laws.
The New York State Electric Bike Laws apply to persons riding electric bikes under the age of 16, their passengers, and the driver’s family members. For example, the rider must wear a bicycle helmet. However, children who have reached the age of 12 can take advantage of motorized assisted bicycles limited to 20MPH on public roads and bike paths. It does not mean that you can ride like a rocket and go dangerously fast.
Many regulations define how fast you can go and where you can ride your electric bike in NY. Therefore, I will take you through all you need to know about the use of electric bikes in Ney Your, so you don’t end up doing things against the law.
- What Is the Definition of Electric Bikes in New York State?
- What Are the Rules for Riding on the Road in New York State?
- Related FAQ about New York State Electric Bike Laws
- Do You Need a License, Insurance, or Registration in New York?
- What Are the Restrictions on Motor Power or Throttle in New York?
- Are There Any Age Restrictions to Riding an Electric Bike in New York?
- What Are the Laws around Helmets in New York?
- Do You Need a License to Drive an Electric Bike in New York?
- Can You Ride an Electric Bike on the Sidewalk in New York?
What Is the Definition of Electric Bikes in New York State?
Electric bikes, also called e-bikes, are bicycles that have been modified to include electric motors. New York law defines an electric bike as a bicycle with operable pedals that can be propelled by human power and an electronic motor of up to 600 watts whose maximum speed on a flat surface is no more than 20 miles per hour.
Then in New York, NY (April 10, 2020) – The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updated the motor vehicle traffic law to include a new definition for electric bicycles. Electric bikes are now defined as having fully operable pedals with an electric motor of fewer than 750 watts. The new legal definition reduces the number of miscellaneous type vehicles that the DMV regulates and enables municipalities to establish their guidelines for electric bike operation.
What Are the Rules for Riding on the Road in New York State?
To legally ride a bike on the road in New York State, you must follow all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. You can either ride in the same direction as traffic or have the right of way over traffic. Before getting on the road, it’s important to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road so that your ride is enjoyable and safe.
Motor Vehicle Passing Bikes
- VTL 114: The law tells all drivers that they have to exercise care whenever they are on the road. It is the duty or right of every driver to avoid collision with any pedestrian or bicyclist. When on the road, you should do well to press the horn when necessary.
- VTL 1122: If you as a driver is riding a bicycle and you want to overtake a car that you are on the same side of the road from behind, you should move to the left at a safe distance until your safety is fully assured.
- VTL 1120: It is a must for all motorists to drive on the right side of the road except in some situations such as: When you notice there is an obstruction in the way, passing a pedestrian or cyclist or When you have to overtake another car moving in the same direction.
RCNY 19 – 190 – Right of way
If a motor vehicle driver chooses not to yield to acknowledge the presence of a bicyclist or anyone who has the right of way, such car driver will be subject to a civil penalty of less than $100 or more.
Also, in the process of violating the law and the driver comes in contact with the pedestrian or cyclist and it leads to physical injury, the driver will be subject to civil penalty with a fine of less than $250 or more.
Bikes Passing on the Right Side of the Road
VTL 1123 – Overtaking on the right
The car or vehicle driver is likely to overtake to the right of another vehicle under the following conditions:
- If the vehicle ahead of the overtaking driver has given the sign of making a left turn
- On a street or highway with the clear pavement that is not impeded by parked vehicles and is wide enough to accommodate two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction.
- On a one-way street or any other road where traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, and the route is clear of barriers and wide enough to accommodate two or more lines of moving vehicles.
- A vehicle’s driver may overtake another vehicle on the right only if the conditions allow for safe movement.
- VTL 1214 – Opening/closing vehicle doors: No one has the right to open the door of a vehicle on the side open to moving traffic. You can only do so once you notice that it is safe to do. If opening interferes with any movement or traffic, you should never open the door.
- RCNY 4-12-(c) – Going out of the vehicle: No one shall exit a vehicle from the side facing the traveled section of the street in a way that could obstruct the right of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle operator.
Bike Lanes and Road Position for Cyclists
- VTL 102-a – Definition of Bicycle Lane : It is known as the section of the road that has been designated for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles by the use of striping, signage, and pavement markings.
- VTL 1234 – Riding on roadways/ bicycle or in-line skate lanes and paths: Any bicycle or in-line skate must be driven on all streets in such a way as to avoid undue interference with traffic flow, either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if one is not available, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or on a usable right-hand shoulder.
You need to know many more laws, and you can check NYC cyclist laws here for more information.
Related FAQ about New York State Electric Bike Laws
Do You Need a License, Insurance, or Registration in New York?
If you have a car in New York, you need proof of insurance, a driver’s license, and vehicle registration. Different types of cars require specific types of registration. In New York, there are several documents and requirements you must have before taking your vehicle on the road. The primary ones are a Vehicle Registration and an Insurance Card, both available from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
What Are the Restrictions on Motor Power or Throttle in New York?
New York restrictions on motor power or throttle may differ based on the type of vehicle you own. Within New York, some vehicles may be operated with a throttle but with the authority of one or more specified restrictions. The applicable motor vehicle laws or regulations should be examined for details on any specific restrictions.
Also, the restrictions for most cars are that the vehicle may not be operated on a highway with a speed limit that is higher than 35 miles per hour, and you must register it in your state or country of residence. In some areas, certain vehicle modifications are required.
Are There Any Age Restrictions to Riding an Electric Bike in New York?
In New York, the age limit to riding an electric bike, scooter, and motorcycle are 16. Anyone that is below that age is not allowed to ride an e-bike.
What Are the Laws around Helmets in New York?
New Yorkers are among the most safety-conscious people in the country, but an often-overlooked safety issue is bicycle helmets. In NY, all bicyclists under the age of 14 must wear helmets when riding on the road, in traffic, and a park. Riders 14 and older are required to wear a helmet only if their bicycle doesn’t have brakes or have mechanical problems that make brakes unsafe.
Do You Need a License to Drive an Electric Bike in New York?
You don’t need a driver’s license to ride your electric bike, but one might be required by your state or local government. Just be sure to check out the safety regulations before you hit the road on your new e-bike.
Can You Ride an Electric Bike on the Sidewalk in New York?
Yes, you can ride an electric bike on the sidewalk in New York City. There are no laws against it, but there are some rules you should know before riding on the sidewalk, including that you should only travel at speeds of less than ten mph.
Laws and laws might change at any time, making the information above obsolete and useless. Check with your city, county, state, and other local agencies for the most up-to-date rules governing the safe and legal usage of electric bicycles in your area.
You can see other USA state Laws:
- Arizona State Electric Bike Laws & Restrictions
- Electric Bike Laws in Michigan & Restrictions
- Texas Electric Bike Laws and Restrictions
- Electric Bike Laws in Michigan
If you are here to find out information on New York State electric bike laws, then you are just in the right place. Many end up paying the civil penalty due to ignorance. It is best that you know and understands the rules and laws of riding an electric bike in New York so that you do not end up paying a fine that you could easily avoid.
Hello, this is Evan Larry. The chief editor of this site, “eBikeBuster.” After completing my graduation in mechanical engineering, I worked for a renowned e-bike manufacturing company as a technician. I had worked there for almost six years, and later I quit the job and started my own business where I sell different types of e-bike and their tools and accessories. I created this site, eBikeBuster, to guide people, who are new to an e-bike and don’t have proper knowledge about its tools, accessories, and maintenance.