Electric bikes are great for transportation. They’re environmentally friendly, easy to operate, and a lot of fun! But can you ride them on the road? Let’s find out.
Federal e-bike laws are mostly about product safety regulations, leaving states and local municipalities to decide whether or not it’s legal to ride an electric bike on the road.
Currently, all states allow e-bikes on roads. However, there are some restrictions in some states that you need to know before taking your e-bike out.
For example, some states only allow you to ride your e-bike on certain types of roads or on roads with low-speed limits.
Here’s a list of the restrictions you can expect in each state:
- Alabama: E-bikes must drive as far on the right as possible.
- Alaska: They’re allowed unless the road prohibits bicycles. However, you can’t pass vehicles or drive between rows of traffic.
- Arizona: E-bikes are allowed on roads only if they operate at 20 mph but no more than 25 mph.
- Arkansas: E-bikes aren’t allowed on state highways and must drive as far right as possible.
- California: E-bikes must be as far right as possible.
- Colorado: E-bikes can ride on roadways.
- Connecticut: They’re not allowed on limited-access highways or turnpikes and have to operate in the right lane or shoulder.
- Delaware: They can ride on roadways that allow bicycles.
- Florida: E-bikes must stay in the right lane.
- Georgia: E-bikes must stay in the right lane or be on road shoulders.
- Hawaii: State law doesn’t define e-bikes. However, they allow bicycles on roadways, so you can infer that they allow e-bikes on roadways.
- Idaho: E-bikes must stay in the right lane unless they’re making a left turn.
- Illinois: Electric bikes must stay in the right lane.
- Indiana: Electric bikes are allowed on all roads that allow bicycles.
- Iowa: You can ride an e-bike on roads.
- Kansas: You can ride an electric bike on city streets on the far right. However, you cannot ride them on county highways and interstates.
- Kentucky: You can only ride an e-bike on a road with a speed limit lower than the maximum speed the e-bike can reach.
- Louisiana: You should ride your electric bike as far right as possible except when turning left.
- Maine: E-bikes must stay as far right as possible and follow all road rules.
- Maryland: Electric bikes can ride on any road where the Maryland Transportation Authority allows them. They should yield to pedestrians and road traffic.
- Massachusetts: Electric bikes are allowed on all public ways except state highways that prohibit bicycles.
- Michigan: E-cyclists can ride on any road bicyclists can. However, they cannot ride on state highways or interstates. Mackinac Island State Park only allows e-bikes with a permit.
- Minnesota: You must ride your e-bike in the same direction as road traffic when riding on the road.
- Mississippi: The state doesn’t define electric bicycles and leaves laws up to local jurisdictions. Therefore, it’s legal to ride them on roadways as long as the local municipality allows them.
- Missouri: You can only ride an electric bicycle on the roads with speed limits lower than the bike’s maximum speed. E-bikes must stay as far right as possible except when turning left. E-bikes can ride side-by-side as long as they’re not impeding motorists.
- Montana: E-bikes can ride on roadways.
- Nebraska: Electric can ride on roads.
- Nevada: E-bikes can only ride on roads with speed limits below the bike’s maximum speed. Riders should stay as far right as possible unless turning left and follow all road laws.
- New Hampshire: You can ride an electric bike on any road you can ride a bike.
- New Jersey: E-bikes can ride on the right side of roads. However, you cannot ride them on interstates, four-lane highways with medians, or highways with speed limits over 50mph.
- New Mexico: Electric bikes can ride on roads.
- New York: You can ride e-bikes on some streets and highways with a speed limit of 30 mph or less. Municipalities have further rights to regulate when, where, and how e-bikes can operate.
- North Carolina: Electric bikes can operate on public highways and roads with a speed limit under 25 mph and must yield the right of way to pedestrians and motorists.
- North Dakota: E-bikes are allowed on public highways and roads without restriction.
- Ohio: You must follow all traffic laws when riding an e-bike on streets, roads, or highways.
- Oklahoma: E-bikes can operate on any roads that allow bicycles.
- Oregon: E-bikes are considered bicycles and can ride on any roads that allow bicycles.
- Pennsylvania: You can ride e-bikes on roads.
- Rhode Island: Electric bicycles should follow the same laws on roads as motorists.
- South Carolina: E-bikes must follow the same laws on roads as motorists.
- South Dakota: Electric bikes can operate on the road.
- Tennessee: You can ride an e-bike on the road.
- Texas: Electric bikes must stay as far right as possible except when turning left.
- Utah: E-bikes must stay as far right as possible except when making a left turn.
- Vermont: You can ride e-bikes on roadways using bike laws. However, you cannot ride e-bikes on interstates and turnpikes.
- Virginia: You can only ride electric bikes on roads with a speed limit under 25 mph and must yield to pedestrians.
- Washington: Electric bikes can use roads and limited access highways.
- West Virginia: You can ride electric bikes anywhere you can ride bikes.
- Wisconsin: You can ride e-bikes on roads.
- Wyoming: You must keep your e-bike as far right as possible except when turning left.
Your local municipality may have further laws for riding electric bikes on roads. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check your city’s or township’s regulations for e-bikes before taking your e-bike out for a spin.
Here are the top ten cities for electric bike commuting:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
The great thing about these cities is that they’ve done a lot to encourage and support electric biking. If you live in one of these highly-populated areas, check for available spots to plug in your bike before making your trip.
When riding an electric bike on the road, you’ll need to follow specific rules and regulations.
Some states and local municipalities require a license to drive an e-bike or have an age limit riding e-bikes. Be sure to check these laws before taking your e-bike out for a drive.
You will have to yield to pedestrians along the same lines, just as you would any other bike. Pedestrians have the right of way in all cases.
Because e-bikes are silent, pedestrians may not hear your approach. When passing through an area with foot traffic, make sure to call out a greeting or say “on your left” before overtaking someone.
Stay in your lane as much as possible when riding an electric bike on roads and highways. Try not to cross center lines.
In most cases, if you are crossing a lane, it’s generally safe to assume that the other road users won’t expect you to be there. Try your best not to surprise anyone. In addition, try and stay at least three feet from cars at all times to make it easier for other road users to see you.
Riding defensively means being aware of your surroundings at all times. Always know how cars, pedestrians, and other road users are likely to act around you.
Use hand signals or buy a light with a turn signal. Making eye contact with other road users will help them understand what you’re doing—and where you plan on going next.
When riding on the road, expect the unexpected. Assume that every other road user is not paying attention to you—even if it’s not the case. Riding defensively will help you stay safe, no matter what happens.
Be sure to stay visible to motorists at all times.
Wear bright and reflective clothing and gear, especially at night.
You should also be sure your bike has adequate lighting to ensure others can see you. Lights just don’t help at night; they are also helpful during the day.
Many states and cities require specific types of lights on bicycles and e-bikes, so it’s important to know your local laws regarding light requirements.
When riding an electric bike on the road, you should always wear safety gear.
Slowing down and turning on your lights can increase safety. Watch out for oil slicks to avoid a wipeout. It’s also best not to ride through swift floodwaters because they may be deeper than expected. It’s best to lower your elevation and seek shelter if there’s lightning.
If you’re anything like me, once you learn how to ride an electric bicycle safely, you’ll never want to give it up. Always remember the proper safety precautions so that everyone can enjoy it and stay safe.
Remember, the more people we have riding electric bikes on the road, the fewer cars there will be, and the cleaner our cities will become. Talk about making a positive change! One day, we may even get by with fewer roads since we can glide across sidewalks and other public areas on our e-bikes.
Related electric bike articles:
- How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric Bike
- Are Electric Bikes Allowed on Bike Paths?
- Can You Ride an Electric Bike After Drinking?
- What Is a Hybrid Electric Bike?
- Can You Take an Electric Bike on a Train?
- Can You Use a Car Battery for an Electric Bike?
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric bikes caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my e-bike. Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric bikes. Check out more.