Something that is common in the rest of the world has remained controversial in New York for the past decade. That is the use, ownership, and sale of electric bicycles—more commonly known as e-bikes—in New York. For the past decade, they remained illegal in New York City, whereas the rest of the State failed to address the legality of their use. While they were technically never “legal” they were also technically never “illegal”—they just remained in a grey area without any clear definition of their use.
However, effective since April 2020, the law now permits New Yorkers to ride e-bikes throughout the state.
What Is An E-Bike & Why Do People Want to Ride Them?
E-bikes are bicycles equipped with a small motor, usually 750 watts, that assists a cyclist’s forward movement. While many cycling purists don’t believe them to be bikes, there are equally as many people who love their e-bikes. E-bikes provide access to cycling for people who may not have the physical ability to ride a bike. An e-bike offers access to our steep roads or a return from a downhill trip that may be too difficult an assent for a traditional bike. It allows friends and significant others to join each other on rides when one may be a stronger rider than the other. And, to be honest, they are just fun to ride.
What Changed in New York?
This past April, the state’s budget included an agreement that was a provision to legalize e-bikes, following last year’s veto from the Governor. The updated language and conditions helped the new proposal to be approved.
The budget language created three classes of e-bikes: Class 1 is pedal-assisted with no throttle; Class 2 is throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph; and Class 3 is throttle-powered with a maximum speed of 25 mph. Helmets would also be required for riders of Class 3 e-bikes. For further clarification, “throttle bikes” have a lever or throttle that allows the bike to be propelled forward without pedaling. The motor on a “pedal assist” bike only activates once the rider starts moving.
It is important to know that the new law prohibits operation by anyone under the age of 16. It is now also illegal to operate an e-bike while intoxicated.
What Do They Cost?
There are lots of e-bike companies out there these days. Entry level e-bikes with cheaper and less powerful motors cost in the area of $1000 dollars. As the quality of the bike and the power of the motor increases, so does the cost. It is easy to find an e-bike in the $7,500.00 dollar range. They come in the form of cruisers, mountain bikes, road bikes, or cargo bikes. Even existing bikes can be retrofitted with a motor.
E-bikes are a great alternative to using your car around town or the City. They are fun to ride and give access to cycling to those who found it a challenge before. The choices are endless although availability during this COVID bike rush may be challenging. If it’s something you are thinking about for you or a family member, start your research early as we are seeing delivery times delayed for months during the “bike boom” of 2020.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident while on a bicycle or e-bike, our law firm can help. Our experienced New York City bike collision and bike accident attorneys have decades of experience in winning compensation for injured cyclists. Contact us now!