By Gwendolyn Craig
Electric bikes and scooters are now legal in New York, with some caveats.
Commonly called e-bikes and e-scooters, they were legalized in the 2021 executive budget.
They remain banned on state lands including the Adirondack Forest Preserve, according to a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The exception will be the Adirondack Rail Trail, the spokesperson added. The Adirondack Park Agency officially approved that trail in May, and the hope is it will be completed in 2023. The state will only allow pedal-assist bikes on the rail trail.
Outside forest preserve, they may only be driven on roads posted 30 miles per hour or less, and cannot be driven on sidewalks. That means e-bike and e-scooter drivers will have limited spots to go in the Adirondacks.
The push for e-bikes and scooters has been an uphill one. At the end of last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had vetoed a bill legalizing them, citing missing safety measures. The bill has since been updated and includes things like a helmet requirement and prohibition on riders younger than 16.
The state Senate and Assembly passed the 2021 state budget, which Cuomo signed in April.
According to the budget text, there are three classes of e-bikes. All must stop providing a boost to riders once the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph. Here is the breakdown:
- Class 1: “A bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that provides assistance only when the person operating such bicycle is pedaling;”
- Class 2: “A bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle;”
- Class 3: “Solely within a city having a population of one million or more, a bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle.”
E-scooters must also have a maximum speed of 20 mph.
There is also a provision in the legislation that allows any local government body to pass its own law further regulating the use of e-bikes and e-scooters. They could lower the maximum speed, require more protective equipment and could prohibit their use in certain areas.
To learn more, go to the state Department of Motor Vehicles website.
David Horn says
How much do your ebikes cost and were about are you
Start at $999
I’m pulled over in long island and being given tickets since it does not have pedals. Nassau county garden city
I’m wondering why is the cops stopping and taking the electric bikes… I don’t see any new law that we need a plate registered or have insurance… so whats going on..
Bob C. says
As a mountain biker of 30+ years, and one who will likely require a Class I pedal assist bike to keep riding long into retirement, I feel NYS needs to make a clear distinction at trailheads between pedal assist (no throttle) bicycles and e-motos (Sur Ron’s, Talaria’s, etc.).
The latter group is skirting the law where their e-motos “magically” become pedal bikes because they bolted on a $300 pedal kit that will never be used. These motocross bikes just happen to be more stealthy than your average 2-stroke or 4-stroke, and are a menace since despite being able to keep up with, and pass vehicular traffic with the twist of a throttle, do not require NYS registration or plates. The pedal rule is easily skirted. By the law, a Sur Ron with a pedal kit would be allowed on the rail trail. This e-moto is capable of 47mph from the factory (before mods).
One only needs to watch the self-incriminating YouTube channels to learn owner’s “better to claim ignorance” group think.
The e-moto industry is basically introducing a whole new group of trail users to the woods who haven’t had to learn responsible use, get along with other trail users, or God forbid…attend a trail maintenance day. These e-motos need to be classified as ATVs and restricted to private property or land designated for ATV use.