Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike?

You’ve seen your neighbors riding them, you’ve seen them on your morning commute, and because you don’t have a license they seem like a great option. We’re talking about the electric bike (eBikes.) With more traffic and frustration than ever more people are turning to eBikes to get to the office or down the street to the local park easily and efficiently.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, eBikes are an appealing option to get where you need to go, but do you need a license for an electric bike? Can you ride on the sidewalks or do you have to stay in the streets?

Let’s learn more about the rules governing eBikes including how to classify different types of eBikes, if eBikes are street legal, how to find your local rules, and how to best keep safe while riding your eBike.

Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike?

The eBike Classes

To better understand where you can take your eBike and if you need a license you need to learn a little about eBike classification. Though there’s not an official standard most eBike manufacturers and town books classify eBikes into three categories.

  • Class I – A pedal-assist only eBike with no throttle. Class 1 eBikes have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
  • Class II – eBikes with throttle that have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
  • Class III – eBikes that are pedal assist only with no throttle that have a maximum assist speed of 28 mph.

When talking about eBike laws and licensing or street rules you’re normally referring to Class III eBikes. Anything above a Class 3 is generally considered a motor vehicle, even if it uses an electric motor and will have unique licensing requirements.

Do You Need a License to Drive an Electric Bike?

Because there are no federal rules on eBikes, there’s not a yes or no answer for everyone on whether you need a license for an electric bike. Instead of looking for blanket laws and regulations, you’ll need to turn to your local or state government to determine if you need a license to drive an electric bike.

Most cities and states do not require a driver’s license to operate an eBike, regardless of its classification. However, many jurisdictions do limit the riding of Class III eBikes to those 16 and older. You’ll need to double check your 14- or 15-year-old is okay to ride your Class III eBike before sending them to the corner store. (Always check helmet laws too!)

Are Electric Bikes Street Legal?

Electric bikes are gaining popularity every day but most of the laws governing them are having trouble keeping up, particularly when it comes to riding in the street. You’ll have to look at the local level to determine where you can and can’t ride your eBike but there are many similarities in most places.

We’ll use Denver as good example of local ordinances to answer if electric bikes are street legal. For Denver, where you can and can’t go depends on what type of class your eBike is. Most towns and cities have similar laws dividing where you can and can’t ride based on the bike’s size, capabilities, speed, and more.

For Denver, all eBikes are encouraged to use bike lanes or designated trails when available regardless of class. Riding in the street is only legal for Class III eBikes, only when you can keep up with vehicle traffic, and only below 28 mph.

Many cities and towns have similar rules. When riding street stick to urban and suburban roads and other areas where you can keep up with traffic over highways to stay on the right side of the law. When in doubt, call your local public safety office to get the full rules.

Staying Safe on the Road

Regardless of local laws there are rules you should always follow to stay safe on your eBike.

  • Never ride where you can’t keep up with traffic, regardless of shoulder width.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Always signal your intentions like turns and stopping.
  • Keep your eBike in good repair.
  • If you’re taking a long ride let someone know your intentions and when you’re supposed to arrive back.
  • Follow all stop signs and red lights as if you were a car.

Learning about Licenses and eBikes

To figure out eBike laws and where you should and shouldn’t ride, you’ll need to know what type of eBike you have and what your town or city mandates. Figure out your bike type, talk to your local public safety office, and you’ll know you’re doing the right thing.

If you know the rules, know your eBike, and how to keep yourself safe, you’ll have a much better time on your eBike. Check out our available eBikes for sale now to enjoy the benefits for yourself.