U.S. Electric Bicycle Laws and Safety Tips
The adult electric bike has become the talk of the town in recent years due to its increasing popularity and numerous benefits. The electric bicycle has made lives easier by helping people in their daily commute, maintaining fitness, and enjoying some adventurous off-road riding. Riding an electric bicycle is just like riding a manual bicycle, except that it is equipped with an electric motor that assists in pedaling, making the riding experience effortless and tireless. But the laws and regulations of e-bikes differ from that of manual bicycles and vary from state to state. So it is important to know about the U.S electric bicycle laws and also the safety tips for riding a fat tire e-bike to prevent any injuries or unforeseen circumstances during the ride. Here’s all the necessary information you can find regarding adult electric bicycle laws and safety tips.
What is an adult electric bike?Before we hop on to the laws of e-bikes, it is important to understand what makes an adult electric bike different from a conventional bike. So an electric bicycle is equipped with an electric motor that is powered by a battery. The electric motor of an adult electric bike assists in pedaling in the pedal-assist electric bicycle, while in the throttle mode, the adult electric bicycle doesn’t require pedaling, and the electric motor does all the work. The electric bicycle laws depend upon the speed and power output of the electric motor that should be maintained during the ride.
U.S. electric bike laws and regulationsAdult electric bike laws and regulations are defined at the federal level and the state level. The electric bicycle laws are not generalized but vary from state to state.
► Federal levelThe consumer product safety act defined the electric bicycle and differentiated it from electric scooters and motors in 2002 by stating it as “A two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of fewer than 750 watts, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.” This law applies to low-speed electric vehicles that work on pedal assist and throttle modes, except that the maximum speed mentioned above applies only to adult e-bikes working on the throttle.
But this regulation is only for abided during the manufacturing, and the first sale of an adult electric bike, and the rest of the laws and regulations are made individually by the states. Electric bicycle laws by state then tell about the licensing, registration, traffic rules, helmet regulations, and if they should only be used on bike lanes or multipurpose trails.
► State level
After you have purchased an e-bike, it is important to know the electric bike laws by state. Every state has set its laws by mainly focusing on the three factors.
1. Revising their previous laws regarding electric vehicles and classifying e-bikes as mopeds and electric scooters. In such cases licensing, and registration may be required.
2. Most states have implemented laws based on the three-tier classification of e-bikes.
3. Some states have introduced or refined some new electric bicycle laws for more clarification about which category they lie in.
Three-tier classification systemElectric bike laws by state are formed mainly on the three-tier classification system. Twenty-six states which include Maryland, Arizona, Arkansas, California, New York, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Utah, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Virginia, Wyoming, and Connecticut, have created their laws and regulations by classifying e-bikes based on three-tier classification system. The three-tier classification is as follows:
• Class 1 electric bicycle: an electric bicycle equipped with an electric motor that only provides pedaling assistance till the adult electric bike reaches the speed of 20 mph and ceases the assistance as the speed increases. Class 1 electric bike is seen as the most lenient class, which doesn’t have many strict laws in most states, as compared to the other two classes of e-bikes.
• Class 2 electric bicycle: a class 2 electric bike is equipped with an electric motor that exclusively propels the electric bicycle forward and does not provide assistance till the adult electric bike reaches the speed of 20 mph. Class 2 electric bike functions very similarly to motorcycles and scooters but also provides an option for pedal assistance, in case you want to ride it like a manual bicycle.
• Class 3 electric bicycle: an electric bicycle equipped with an electric motor that only provides pedaling assistance till the adult electric bike reaches the speed of 28 mph and ceases the assistance as the speed increases. Class 3 e-bikes are equipped with a speedometer. Class 3 e-bikes have strict laws in most states, and some states also require a license for class 3 e-bikes. They are also restricted to being used in specific areas.
The adult electric bicycle that does not fit into either of the classes is not considered a low-speed electric bicycle, and they have different rules and regulations. E-bikes that fall under any of the classes of the three-tier classification system, do not require any licensing or registration. The e-bikes that exceed the speed of 28 mph are mostly categorized as motorized vehicles, for which laws and regulations may be different, and licensing and registration may be necessary.
Some states, like West Virginia and new jersey, follow a two-tier classification system. New jersey only categorizes the e-bikes in the first two classes, while west Virginia only classifies them under class 1 and class 3 e-bikes.
So before buying or riding an adult electric bicycle, it is important to read the electric bike laws by state to avoid any unlawful acts or accidents.
Helmet requirements and regulationsThe next most frequently asked question regarding the e-bike laws is if wearing an e-bike helmet is necessary when riding an adult electric bike and if is there any specific helmet to be used. So the helmet requirements and regulations also vary from state to state. Every state has its law regarding the use of helmets on an e-bike. So you should check electric bike laws by state to know about the e-bike helmet regulations in your state.
About 25 states have e-bike helmet requirements and regulations for adult electric bike riders that are also age specific. They require helmets to be worn both by the riders and the passengers sitting behind them, and they fall in the age range of 12 to 18. For example, California and New Mexico have strict regulations that riders under the age of 18 should wear a helmet. While the other 25 states do not have any specific regulations regarding helmed requirements while riding electric bikes.
UL safety standards for electric bicycleUnderwriter laboratories is an international safety science certification organization that publishes standards for the manufacturing of electrical vehicles by testing and investigating the electrical components for any potential hazards that might take place while riding an adult electric bike. They maintain the standards of safety by assessing the fire safety of the e-bikes and the lithium-ion batteries by examining and testing the electrical components of an adult electric bicycle. The UL-certified manufacturers of e-bikes guarantee the consumers about durability, quality, and safety of the electrical and mechanical components of the e-bike.
Most electric bicycle manufacturers use lithium-ion batteries in their vehicles for the efficient functioning of an adult electric bike, but they are associated with some potential hazards which might lead to fire, explosion, electric shock in case of malfunction, or damage to the battery. In this case, UL standards have published some safety standards specifically for batteries to be used in light electric vehicles. UL 2271 released in December 2016, is specifically for the safety standards of the batteries. It tests and assesses all the components of an electric bike battery. To obtain the UL 2271 certification for the batteries, the battery must be non-explosive, withstand overcharging and over-discharging, shouldn’t catch fire, and withstand short circuits and shock. The UL safety standards also ensure that the materials used in the electric bike battery are robust and that the wires and connectors are at the right place and distance.
Addmotor electric bike is the world’s first adult electric bike with a UL-certified electric bike battery. Its 48V* 20 AH lithium-ion Samsung battery is UL 2271 certified, which is the standard for batteries to be used in light electric vehicles. The UL-certified Addmotor electric bike ensures the safety of both the consumer and the battery by using UL-certified materials and products in the manufacturing of the Addmotor electric bike.
► Why choose UL certified electric bike?With so many incidences of battery explosion and fire that have been reported in recent years, consumers now raise questions about e-bike battery safety. Every manufacturer claims that they have installed an electric bike battery that meets standards of safety. But how do you know if the claim is true and if the electric bike battery meets the safety standards? Here’s when a UL logo helps.
A UL logo on the battery pack ensures that it is UL certified and meets the UL standards of safety and protection. A UL logo is a claim that the electric bike battery has gone through different testing and verifying procedures and is now safe to use. This UL logo is a seal of approval that it meets the safety standards and has been manufactured with all the safety parameters and products. United laboratories, being a third-party, non-profit safety organization provides authentic and unbiased certification to the manufacturers by vigorous testing of the electrical components. So when you are purchasing an adult electric bicycle, always look for a UL logo.
UL does not provide just one-time testing of the electric bike battery, but regularly tests and evaluates the products even after issuing the certificate. The regular evaluation ensures that the same quality and e-bike battery safety standards are being met as the first evaluation and that the products are being manufactured on the same standards and design. The UL representatives visit the manufacturing company at least four times per year for evaluation of the products. So there’s a very low to no chance that a UL-certified electric bicycle can have a battery that can be potentially hazardous or a risk to your life.
A UL certificate allows manufacturers to build their reputation and trust in the market and provide assurance to their customers about the safety of their products. A UL logo gives customers peace of mind that they can ride their e-bikes without any fear or danger.
Not all electric bicycle brands have UL-certified e-bikes, as UL certification increases the cost of an e-bike, making it expensive for consumers. Most of the Addmotor electric bikes are UL certified, but the prices of the e-bikes did not hike up after the certification and remained economical. Addmotor cares about its customer’s safety and provides them the high-quality products at economical rates. The UL-certified Addmotor electric bikes ensure that every Addrider enjoys riding their electric bike to the fullest while ensuring their maximum safety.
Safety tips for riding an adult electric bicycleRiding an electric bicycle is easy and fun, but without knowing and following safety measures, it can lead to tragic accidents. With the rise in the popularity of e-bikes, there’s also a rise in the number of e-bikes on the roads, and since the majority of the users are new to it, many accidents have been reported in the past few years. So if you have recently bought an adult electric bike or planning to buy one, it is important to know about the safety measures before you take it to the road. Here are some safety tips that we have compiled for the new riders so that you remain safe and enjoy riding your new electric bicycle.
#1 Wear protective gear
The first safety tip is to protect yourself by wearing all the necessary gear to protect the delicate parts of your body in case of an accident or fall. Wear a purpose-built e-bike helmet that can withstand the impact well to protect your head and specifically your brain from any injury. Other than that, gloves, shoes, and elbow and knee pads are also crucial to protect your limbs from any fracture or soft tissue injury. Wear clothes that don’t get stuck in the chain or pedals or any other part of the electric bicycle.
#2 Maintain your speedMost of the accidents occur as the new riders try to ride the adult electric bicycle at maximum speed at the highest assist level. When you are a new rider, it is better to start at a slow speed and explore the features and functionality of the fat tire e-bike. Once you get used to and get hold of your adult electric bicycle, you can increase the speed and ride it even at the maximum speed and assist level.
#3 Ensure your visibilitySince the electric motor in an adult electric bicycle doesn’t produce sound like traditional motorbikes, the riders usually get unnoticed by the pedestrians and other drivers on the road, which results in unwanted events. So to ensure your maximum visibility to the people and other vehicles around you, equipping your electric bicycle with a bell or a horn is necessary to warn or alert everyone in the surrounding. Along with that, an efficient lighting system should also be present in your fat tire e-bike, especially for nighttime riding. Reflectors on an adult electric bike also play a role in visibility and safety.
#4 Be careful while mounting and dismounting the electric bicycleMany of the fat tire e-bike injuries are associated with mounting and dismounting the adult electric bike. Due to their extra weight, it gets difficult for the riders, especially the adults with mobility issues, to handle the electric bicycle while getting on and off it, and they easily tip it over and get injured. Some e-bikes also have a step-over frame design, and the riders get injured while moving their limb over the electric bicycle while mounting and dismounting it. So before buying an adult electric bicycle, it is important to select a frame design that is suitable for you.
#5 Install bike mirrorsTurning your electric bicycle can be a struggle if the mirrors are not installed in it. Making a turn or changing the lane while glancing over your shoulder can lead to a risk of bumping into vehicles in front of you. To prevent any accident, and to know the situation ahead of time, it is better to install rear-view bike mirrors that can help you assess the situation behind you without letting you turn your head. You can buy fat tire e-bike mirrors from any electric bicycle retailer.
#6 Push the brakes ahead of timeE-bikes are heavier and move faster with more power than traditional bicycles or motorbikes. So those brakes last minute at road crossings or obstacles won't work in the case of e-bikes. With e-bikes, you have to push the brakes ahead of time to fully stop your adult electric bike at the right moment. You may also lose control of the electric bicycle when trying to stop it by pushing the brakes at the last minute, especially in rainy weather conditions when the roads are wet and slippery.
#7 Avoid distractionsSeveral accidents have been reported of riders driving their vehicles while using their mobile phones. Mobile phones and other electronic devices, even music, can distract you and divert your focus away from the road while riding a fat tire e-bike. Such distractions block the signals, and you become unaware of what's happening in your surroundings. It mostly occurs with the new riders who are not used to riding an electric bicycle and become fascinated with every other thing, which may also be attractive billboards. So being a new rider, it is important to focus on the road and the vehicles around you and ride slowly to avoid any accidents.
#8 Follow traffic rules and regulationsBefore taking your first ride, read and know about the electric bike laws by state. Other than that, follow the traffic rules and regulations, which may be similar to traditional motorbikes. Follow and obey the traffic signals and stop signals, stick to your designated adult electric bike lanes, and use the turning light signals when changing lanes or making turns. These are some of the basic traffic rules that everyone should obey to prevent accidents. You should read more about the regulations of e-bikes according to your state.
#9 Practice before riding on busy roadsBefore taking your electric bicycle for the first time on busy roads, try to practice riding it in empty spaces. You can practice in an empty parking lot or a relatively less busy street to get control of your adult electric bike. With practice, you will get to know about the usage of different features present in your electric bicycle and you will know when is the right time to use them. You will also be able to maintain your speed and practice the correct timing of pressing the brakes. With practice and prior knowledge, it will become much easier to ride your fat tire e-bike on the busy road among other vehicles and you won't panic and lose control of the electric bicycle.
#10 Check all the components before the rideBefore heading out with your fat tire e-bike, it is important to ensure that all the components are functioning properly to avoid any sort of mishap during the ride. Check if the tires are properly inflated, the battery is charged according to the distance you need to cover, the chain is oiled properly, the bolts and nuts are tight, and the brakes are functioning properly. This electric bicycle pre-ride safety checklist will help you a lot in having safe and smooth rides without any mishaps or panic.
Safety should always be your number one priority whether you are purchasing an electric bicycle or planning on riding one. From knowing about the electric bike laws by state to purchasing a UL-certified electric bicycle and lastly, reading about the safety tips before taking your first ride, all these steps ensure a smooth and safe process from purchasing to riding an adult electric bicycle. Knowing and following all the necessary safety measures keep you and your electric bicycle safe and also the others around you.