Guide to E-Bike Laws in NYC

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    New York City is famous for its constant hustle and bustle of people, and bike travel is a very popular way to get around town. New e-bikes have hit the streets of NYC, and you should be aware of new laws, rules, and regulations.

    E-bikes are different from ordinary bicycles because they have electric power to help riders travel faster. Most people are allowed to ride e-bikes if they are at least 16, and no special license is required. Although e-bikes are technically motorized, they are not legally considered motorized vehicles, at least not in the same way typical vehicles are. Even so, there are special regulations that apply to e-bikes because they are motorized. Generally, you cannot ride e-bikes on sidewalks. Instead, you must ride in normal traffic lanes or bike lanes. If you are injured in an e-bike accident, you might be able to sue the person responsible. However, if the e-bike involved in the crash was rented, suing the rental company may or may not be possible, depending on the terms of the rental agreement.

    For an evaluation of your case free of charge, call our Manhattan bicycle accident attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.

    The Difference Between E-Bikes and Standard Bicycles in NYC

    E-bikes are similar to ordinary bicycles in that both have operable pedals. However, an e-bike is assisted with an electric motor that gives the rider a boost in speed. E-bikes allow people traveling around New York to move a bit faster without exerting more energy, and they are growing in popularity.

    Unlike bicycles, e-bikes are categorized by the New York City Department of Transportation according to their speed capabilities and other characteristics. According to the NYC DOT, e-bikes are divided into three distinct classes.

    A Class 1 e-bike has operable pedals and an electric pedal assist that allows a rider to travel at speeds of up to 20 mph. Class 2 e-bikes also have operable pedals, but the pedal assist is more like a throttle, and they also travel at speeds of up to 20 mph. Finally, Class 3 e-bikes are the fastest and can travel up to 25 mph. They also have a throttle in addition to operable pedals. Accidents involving e-bikes can be extremely dangerous, and you should call our bicycle accident lawyers to discuss options for compensation.

    It is also important to note that e-bikes are not the same as mopeds or electric scooters. Mopeds are also regulated by the NYC DOT and can travel at somewhat higher speeds than e-bikes. Mopeds are regulated more like cars than bikes. You need a driver’s license to drive a moped, and you must register it with the DMV, unlike e-bikes.

    Who is Permitted to Ride an E-Bike in NYC?

    Anyone is allowed to use an e-bike as long as they are at least 16 years old. E-bikes are more powerful than normal bicycles, and riders can achieve high rates of speed, depending on the e-bike model. The law also requires that riders 16 to 17 to wear helmets. Riders 18 and older, do not need on Class 1 and 2 e-bikes, but they are strongly recommended. If you are riding a Class 3 e-bike, which is capable of at least 25 mph, you are required to wear a helmet.

    Even if you are not required by law to wear a helmet, doing so will help you in an accident. Failing to wear a helmet is not only dangerous but also leaves you vulnerable to allegations of contributory negligence. Our New York City bicycle accident lawyers can help defend against these accusations.

    E-bikes are not allowed on certain roads and highways. Under § 4-12(o) of New York City’s traffic rules and regulations, bikes and e-bikes are banned from highways, expressways, interstates, bridges, and thruways unless signage in the area indicates otherwise.

    Do You Need a License for an E-Bike in NYC?

    Although e-bikes have an electric motor system that helps them travel faster, you do not need a driver’s license to use one. E-bikes are treated the same as ordinary bicycles under the law, with a few exceptions, and you may use e-bikes generally where you would normally use a standard bicycle. As such, e-bikes do not require riders to be licensed. Additionally, e-bikes do not need to be registered like a car or other vehicle.

    Even though e-bikes do not require a license, they are often operated in traffic lanes alongside cars. Drivers have a nasty habit of disregarding bike riders, and many crashes are caused by negligent drivers in cars. Contact our Whiteplains bicycle accident attorneys about a possible insurance claim or lawsuit if you are injured in a crash.

    As discussed earlier, e-bikes are sometimes confused with mopeds, and licensing is a significant difference between the two. While most e-bikes do not require riders to be licensed, riders need a driver’s license to operate a moped. Mopeds are regarded as vehicles, not bikes. This means riders must use them in normal traffic lanes, be licensed, and register their moped with the DMV.

    Are E-Bikes Considered Motorized Vehicles in NYC

    E-bikes are not considered motorized vehicles even though they are powered by electric pedal assists and throttles. While e-bikes are technically vehicles powered by electric motors, they are legally treated like normal bikes rather than motor vehicles.

    The legal definition of motor vehicles can be found under V.A.T. Law § 215 and broadly includes any vehicle powered by anything other than bodily or muscular power. While this might appear to include e-bikes, the law goes on to make specific exclusions. Among these exclusions are bicycles with electric assists (i.e., e-bikes).

    This begs the question, how does the law in New York define an e-bike? According to V.A.T. Law § 102-C, an e-bike, also called a bicycle with an electric assist, is a bike with an electric motor of less than 750 watts, has operable pedals, and meets the requirements for equipment and manufacturing for bikes under the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Even though e-bikes are not considered motor vehicles, accidents involving e-bikes can still be severe. Our Utica bicycle accident attorneys can help you sue the person or people who caused your accident so you can get financial compensation.

    Can You Ride an Electric Bike on the Sidewalk in NYC

    You usually cannot ride an e-bike on the sidewalk in New York City. This should not come as a surprise since people cannot ride most bicycles, electrically powered or not, on the sidewalks. Instead, e-bikes of any class are permitted in bike lanes and any normal traffic lanes with speed limits of no more than 30 mph. While many surface streets are fair game for e-bike riders, major highways, expressways, and other roads with higher speed limits are off-limits.

    Although e-bike riders should not be using sidewalks as travel lanes, there are exceptions to the rule against riding on sidewalks. Under the New York City Traffic Rule and Regulations, people riding bicycles, including e-bikes, must use bike lanes if available unless special circumstances apply. You can ride on a sidewalk if you are preparing to turn into a private driveway or need to avoid a collision.

    Since e-bike riders cannot use sidewalks, they are often in very close proximity to vehicle traffic and at risk of being injured in an accident. If you were struck by a vehicle while riding your bike or e-bike, contact our bicycle accident lawyers about how to get financial compensation for your injuries.

    Can You Sue for Injury After an E-Bike Accident in NYC

    If you are injured in an accident while riding your e-bike, our bicycle accident attorneys can help you figure out the best way to get you financial compensation. If you are hit by a car while riding your e-bike, you may file a claim through your auto insurance. Depending on your circumstances, you might also file a lawsuit against the negligent party.

    Insurance Claims

    New York is a no-fault auto insurance state. Under a no-fault system, drivers injured in car accidents are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that covers them regardless of who caused the crash. If you have such an insurance policy, our team can help you file a claim with your insurance provider. Alternatively, many people in New York City do not drive and do not have auto insurance. In that case, you might be able to file a claim through the insurance of the driver who hit you.

    You should definitely consult with an attorney before beginning the insurance process. Insurance companies are infamous for trying to get out of paying the money they owe to injured drivers, and anything you say might be misconstrued and used against you. An attorney familiar with the auto insurance process, like our Schenectady bicycle accident lawyers, can help you get the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible.


    A significant hurdle within the no-fault insurance system in New York is the limitation on your ability to file a lawsuit. According to I.S.C. Law § 5104(a), only people who experience “serious injuries” are permitted to file lawsuits against negligent drivers. The idea behind this system is that insurance should be able to cover all your damages unless your injuries are serious.

    A serious injury is defined under I.S.C. Law § 5102(d) and includes dismemberment, death, significant scarring or disfigurement, the permanent limitation or loss of body parts, organs, functions, or systems, and any injury that inhibits you from performing daily living tasks for at least 90 days out of the 180 days right after the crash.

    If you have a serious injury and can file a lawsuit, our bicycle accident attorneys will help you determine whom to sue. In many accidents, only one driver is involved, and figuring out whom to sue is a bit easier. Unfortunately, some accidents are complicated and involve multiple drivers. In such cases, you might sue just one of those drivers or all of them, depending on whether we believe they share liability.

    What if My E-Bike Caused the Accident in New York City?

    If you believe your accident was caused because of some malfunction or problem with the e-bike, your situation might be even more complicated. If you bought the e-bike and suspect it was defective, we can help you file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

    A product liability lawsuit is based on the fact that a product or good caused your injuries because that product or good was defective, damaged, or designed in an unsafe way. You can sue the manufacturer in addition to many others in the chain of sale, including the retailer from whom you purchased the e-bike. To be successful, you should have been using the e-bike in a safe manner for its intended purpose. If you were using it in a reckless or dangerous way, you might not win your case.

    If you rented the e-bike from a rental company, it is often very difficult to sue the rental company after a crash, even if we know the e-bike caused the accident. For example, you might have been injured because the brakes on the rented e-bike failed. Since many rental companies make customers sign waivers, it is difficult to sue for damages. Bring your rental agreement for the bike to our Queens bicycle accident attorneys, and we can help you figure out what to do next.

    Call Our Bicycle Accident Attorneys for Help

    For an assessment of your case free of charge, call The Carrion Law Firm now at (718) 841-0083 and speak with our Long Island bicycle accident lawyers.