Many are starting to turn to e-bikes as an inexpensive transportation alternative. Electric bikes make travel available to a wider range of people, and they can save you a considerable amount of money when used as a secondary vehicle.
If you’re traveling, you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with the local e-bike laws. When in Rome, do as the Romans do! You don’t want to get a fine for inadvertently breaking the law, so go ahead and read up on the e-bike laws wherever you’re traveling beforehand.
Here, we’ll be going over the different e-bike laws around the world. Whether you’re travelling to the United States, Canada, or the EU, you can learn about your destination's electric bike laws before you go.
However, we should first cover some of e-bike basics so that everyone is on the same page. Since e-bikes are still a relatively new mode of transportation there is some confusion as to what exactly they are and why someone would want to use an electric bike over a bicycle.
Why Do People Use E Bikes?
The biggest advantage of using an e-bike is cost reduction. Honestly, e-bikes don’t measure up to other vehicles in many ways, but neither do their prices.
It’s often used as a commuter bike if you live in an urban area where a car would be more cumbersome or for those who want to get outdoors, but like the ease of an electric bike.
The initial purchase of an e-bike will cost a lot less than buying a car or motorcycle. If you want to save even more money, you can purchase an e-bike conversion kit and turn your old bike into an e-bike. Sounds cool, right?
Since many use e-bikes to save money on expensive parking spaces in large cities, you should also consider that an e-bike would save you money on gas. The money that you would have otherwise spent on gasoline can be used for something else - saving for a trip or feeding your gourmet coffee habit.
E-Bike Laws: Location Guide
If you’re traveling with your electric bike or considering getting one for the first time, you might be wondering about the legal implications. You should ensure you are educated on the e-bike laws wherever you intend to ride just as you would with a car or motorcycle.
That being said, let’s talk about the different e-bike laws around the world! We can’t cover every individual country’s e-bike laws, but we’ll be covering a few of the most relevant locations across the globe.
USA E-Bike Laws
In the USA, the government isn’t that strict when it comes to e-bike laws, but there are regulations and specifications that electric bike owners should be aware of.
Before we delve into the e-bike laws in the United States, we should establish that there’s a difference between federal laws and state laws governing these bikes.
The federal government largely leaves e-bike laws up to the individual states and/or municipal governments. Don’t fear: e-bike laws will not be largely different from state to state.
Federal E-Bike Laws
According to Electric Bike Review, the USA federal law excludes e-bikes with motors under 750W from the category of “motor vehicle.” Additionally, to be excluded, the e-bike can’t go faster than 20mph.
If your e-bike meets those qualifications, you’re not limited by laws that pertain to motor vehicles. In other words, you won’t need a license or insurance in these cases. However, you should still consider the applicable state laws such as speed.
State E-Bike Laws
Before you decide to take your new e-bike out for a spin, consider your state’s local bike laws. If your e-bike maximum speed is below 20mph and uses a battery that’s less than 750W, the law will treat it just like a bike.
With that in mind:
Look up your state’s local laws regarding bikes and their use in parks and thruways. Be sure to follow these rules carefully in order to avoid an unnecessary fine.
Canada E-Bike Laws
Canada’s laws regarding electric bikes aren’t that much different from the United States. However, Canada is a bit more strict when it comes to their definition of an “e-bike.”
While America’s law defines an e-bike as a bike with a motor under 750W, Canada's law only considers your electric bike as an e-bike if the motor is under 500W. Otherwise, it would be included in the motor vehicle category.
In terms of power, that really isn’t a lot. In fact, it won’t even affect your maximum speed that much depending on the e-bike you go with.
However, this small difference is worth being aware of. If your e-bike is considered a motor vehicle in Canada, it’s subject to all of the Canadians laws pertaining to motor vehicles, which means registration, insurance, and proper licensing.
When it comes to age limitations regarding the use of electric bikes, Canada’s laws vary greatly by providence.
For example, in Alberta, an electric bicycle rider has to be at least 12 years old to operate. In British Columbia that age goes up to 16 years or older to operate an e-bike.
EU E-Bike Laws
The European Union is the strictest of the three when it comes to their e-bike laws. While American and Canadian law exempts certain e-bike models from traditional vehicle regulations; most e-bikes in the EU need to be insured and registered.
However, this isn’t the case in all of the EU’s member states. Since September 2018, some member states have provided provisions that exempt certain e-bikes from this rule to encourage electric bike users.
While some minor e-bike laws vary by country, here are the following laws to keep in mind that are consistent across the EU:
- Cyclists must stay to the right of the road
- Cyclists can tow or push items that endanger the cyclist or other cyclists.
- Cyclists must use proper hand signals when turning.
- Cyclists need to have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Cyclists must ride single file unless they’re passing another cyclist or making a turn.
- Cyclists must use cycle lanes when they’re present.
E-Bike Laws Across The World
Because e-bike laws can vary greatly from one place to another, it’s good to know the local laws wherever you’re thinking about riding. Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on the subject and given you a good place to start.
The information in the sections above should be very helpful, especially to those that want to know more about the e-bike laws in the U.S., the EU, and Canada. Wherever you decide to ride, make sure you’re familiar with the laws that dictate how you can use your electric bike. Safety first!