Are E-Bikes Legal in NYC?

March 19, 2018 3 Comments

Are E-Bikes Legal in NYC?

Image from BikeList.


*This article has been updated. Check out the latest edition here


Here's the thing...NYC laws on E-Bikes are super confusing. With all of this talk in the news about E-Bike crackdowns and a war on E-Bikes, it can obviously make you hesitant to even think about purchasing an electric bicycle. So we’re here to (try) to set the record straight. Under federal law, an electric bike with a maximum assisted speed under 20 miles per hour can be sold as a bicycle, not a motor vehicle.* But, in New York State the laws aren't as clear. As it’s written, fully motorized electric bikes that can operate without requiring the rider to pedal are illegal in New York City, but pedal assist electric bikes are not. Even Mayor De Blasio has encouraged people to ride pedal assist electric bikes. So, what is the difference between fully motorized and pedal assist?


What's the difference?


Fully motorized e-bikes do not require any input from the rider, you just turn the throttle and off you go. But, pedal assist e-bikes are designed to mimic the natural motion you are used to feeling when riding a bicycle. As you pedal the bike, a sensor is activated, which then generates power from the motor. The power is activated only when you pedal with the motor turned on, and the amount of power is determined by the pedal assist level that you choose.


We believe pedal assist electric bikes are the future, combining exhilarating exercise with practical transportation. Riding your bike to the office doesn't mean you'll have to bring a change of clothes – it can just be a fun, breezy trip. Forget about the overcrowded buses and subways. It's time for a healthier and greener future.


For those living outside of NYC, take a look at your particular DMV site to get familiar with your state’s local laws.



*This article has been updated. Click here for latest edition


*The Murky Legality of E-Bikes

3 Responses

alberto roca
alberto roca

May 16, 2019

so can electric bikes be legalized in new York so they can be legal

Liddy H
Liddy H

June 20, 2018

Hello: I am reaching out to you because as a Nyc resident I was just greatly disappointed and personally affected by the gray area that currently remains in the policy around e-bikes in NYC. I own an URB-E, an American made e-bike that like the law states does not go beyond 20mph (having a max speed of 18mph which is not even true considering it is based on the passenger’s wight). But, my bike is not pedal assisted so it is not clearly stated in the law whether it is legal or illegal. On my first day out on the bike, I was stopped, ticketed, and it was confiscated. I am seeking advice on how to go about this as well as support in signing a petition to call attention to and seek policy change.

Stanley Sierra
Stanley Sierra

April 18, 2018

I have electric bicycle that has pedals that look like a moped but has pedals and got stopped by the cops and tell me if I see you riding it again I will call office Katie from you but it goes less than 20 miles per hour. Is he right

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