Of course, some of the popularity is related to pandemic bike shortages. If you walked into your favorite bike shop recently, an e-bike might have been one of your only choices. However, as more people tried out e-bikes and recommended them to friends, they’ve become more popular.
The newfound popularity of electric bikes has also resulted in questions about where you’re allowed to ride them. U.S. federal laws governing e-bike usage have been around since 2002. However, regulations concerning riding e‐bikes on sidewalks come from the state or local level.
Federal Law 107-319 explicitly states that electric bikes are not motor vehicles for the purpose of federal laws. Instead, this law refers to electric bikes as “low-speed electric bicycles.” They can have two or three wheels and travel less than 20 mph without pedal assist.
Federal e-bike laws are mainly about product safety regulations and don’t regulate the use of electric bicycles, leaving traffic codes up to states and local municipalities.
In case you’re not clear on whether a paved path is considered a sidewalk or not, we’ve included information about riding on sidewalks, bike paths, and other paths.
The line can feel fuzzy, especially when some bike paths use city sidewalks as connectors between paths.
In places without specific laws about electric bikes, we’ve included what the law says about bicycles. If bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks in a state, you can infer that e-bikes are also not allowed on sidewalks.
- Alabama: E-bikes have to follow traditional bicycle rules. Since you cannot ride bicycles on the sidewalks, you cannot ride e-bikes on the sidewalk. However, you can operate it on any surface trail that allows both motorized and non-motorized use.
- Alaska: You can ride electric bikes on any path or sidewalk unless bicycles are not allowed there.
- Arizona: You can ride e-bikes in bike lanes and on bike paths. There are no specific laws against riding bicycles or e-bikes on sidewalks unless they are local.
- Arkansas: You cannot operate electric bikes on a sidewalk.
- California: You cannot ride electric bikes on a bike path unless it’s adjacent to a roadway or the path says it allows motorized bikes. You also can’t ride them on a sidewalk.
- Colorado: Class I and II bikes are allowed on pedestrian paths. However, you cannot use the motor on a pedestrian path unless a local ordinance allows it. They do not allow sidewalk riding.
- Connecticut: You cannot ride electric bikes on bicycle trails, bike paths, multi-use trails, paths, or sidewalks.
- Delaware: Electric bicycles can go on bike paths and in state parks. Since bicycles are allowed on sidewalks, it seems e-bikes probably are, too, unless there are local prohibitions.
- Florida: You can ride electric bikes on bike paths, trails, and sidewalks. Local governments determine whether you can ride electric bikes on bicycle paths, multi-use paths, or trail networks.
- Georgia: Electric bicycles are allowed on marked bike paths. However, you cannot ride an e-bike on a bike trail if it can reach over 20mph. State law prohibits anyone over 12 from riding bikes on the sidewalk.
- Hawaii: Hawaii doesn’t legally define e-bikes. However, they do allow bicycles on all state paths. You are not allowed to ride bicycles on sidewalks in business districts. Where it is legal to ride bikes on sidewalks, you can’t ride over 10 mph.
- Idaho: You can ride electric bikes on bike paths and trails. However, you cannot ride electric bikes on sidewalks.
- Illinois: Electric bikes can drive on bike paths and trails. However, electric bikes cannot drive on sidewalks.
- Indiana: Indiana regulates electric bikes like bicycles. You can also ride them on bike paths and in state parks unless there’s a posted exception. Being able to ride a bike on the sidewalk depends on the city.
- Iowa: Iowa e-bikers can use bike paths and sidewalks.
- Kansas: E-bikes with a max speed of 20mph and operable pedals can use sidewalks and bike paths unless otherwise posted.
- Kentucky: Kentucky defines e-bikes as mopeds. You can ride e-bikes on sidewalks and bike paths unless the local municipality restricts it.
- Louisiana: You can ride an electric bike on riding paths unless posted otherwise. State law doesn’t prohibit bicycles on the sidewalk, but some local laws do.
- Maine: It’s fine to ride e-bikes on paths that allow traditional bicycles. However, you cannot ride your e-bike on the sidewalk.
- Maryland: Class 3 e-bikes cannot operate on a bicycle path unless it’s adjacent to or within a highway right-of-way or the local laws allow it. Cyclists cannot ride on sidewalks unless local laws allow it.
- Massachusetts: You cannot use e-bikes on off-street recreational bike paths. Therefore, you probably shouldn’t use them on sidewalks either.
- Michigan: Class 1 electric bikes can ride on rail trails or paved surfaces, which seems to include sidewalks. Class 2 e-bikes can only do so if local regulations allow them. E-bikes cannot use natural trails or trails designated non-motorized.
- Minnesota: Electric bikes with a motor that can’t go faster than 20mph are a subset of bicycles. You can drive electric bikes on bike trails and bike paths. However, you cannot ride bikes on sidewalks in a business district.
- Mississippi: State law says that regulations surrounding e-bikes are completely up to the local entity that creates bike paths. Sidewalk regulations for bicycles are all local, too.
- Missouri: Motorized bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks.
- Montana: You can ride e-bicycles on bicycle paths, including state park paths. However, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks.
- Nebraska: You can ride electric bikes on bicycle paths and sidewalks.
- Nevada: Nevada doesn’t have laws regulating riding e-bikes off roadways. However, you can ride a bicycle on sidewalks unless local governments prohibit it.
- New Hampshire: You can ride class I and II e-bikes on bike or multi-use paths. You can only ride class III e-bikes on paths adjacent to highways or roadways. However, local governments can make different rules. You cannot operate a bicycle on the sidewalk.
- New Jersey: You can ride electric bikes on bicycle paths and sidewalks.
- New Mexico: E-bikes can ride on bike paths. There are no state laws about bicycles on sidewalks.
- New York: You cannot operate an electric bikes on the sidewalk unless local laws allow it.
- North Carolina: You can ride e-bikes on sidewalks and bike paths.
- North Dakota: Electric bikes can use bike paths. However, they cannot use sidewalks.
- Ohio: You cannot operate an electric bike anywhere except in places that allow motorized vehicles. However, you can operate an electric bike on the sidewalk if you disengage the motor.
- Oklahoma: You can ride your electric bike anywhere you can ride your bicycle. Regulations about riding bicycles on sidewalks are all local.
- Oregon: Electric bikes can go anywhere that bicycles can go. However, they cannot go on sidewalks.
- Pennsylvania: You can ride your electric bikes on the sidewalk unless local regulations prohibit it.
- Rhode Island: E-bikes must follow laws for vehicles, but there aren’t laws saying whether you can ride them on bike paths or sidewalks. Local laws will govern whether or not you can.
- South Carolina: Electric bikes must follow vehicle laws. Consult local laws about whether you can ride them on bike paths and sidewalks.
- South Dakota: You can ride class I or II but not class III e-bikes on bike paths or multi-use trails. However, you cannot ride e-bikes on sidewalks.
- Tennessee: It’s okay to ride electric bikes on recreational paths, but you cannot ride them on sidewalks.
- Texas: E-bikes can drive on bike paths and trails unless otherwise posted. However, local ordinances govern riding e-bikes on sidewalks.
- Utah: You can ride e-bikes on bike paths or trails unless otherwise posted. However, you cannot ride them on the sidewalk.
- Vermont: You can ride e-bikes on bike paths but not sidewalks.
- Virginia: Electric bikes are fine on bike paths. Consult local regulations about riding electric bikes on the sidewalk.
- Washington: There are no specific prohibitions concerning riding class I or II e-bikes on sidewalks. However, you cannot ride a class II e-bike on the sidewalk unless there’s no alternative.
- West Virginia: You cannot ride e-bikes on the sidewalk.
- Wisconsin: You can ride electric bikes on bike paths and shared-use paths if you disengage the motor. However, you cannot ride electric bikes on sidewalks.
- Wyoming: E-bikes can drive on bike paths and trails. Wyoming discourages riding bicycles on pedestrian sidewalks.
Related electric bike articles:
- How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric Bike
- How Easy Is It to Ride an Electric Bike
- Are electric bikes good for fitness
- Electric Bike Keeps Cutting Out
- Can You Use An Electric Bike Without A Battery?
- What is the best folding electric bike on the market?
- How To Use Gears On An Electric Bike
- Can I Leave My Ebike On Charge Overnight?
The states divide evenly between ones that allow and disallow electric bikes on the sidewalk. If you’re trying to determine whether you can ride your electric bike on the sidewalk, it’s important to know both state laws and local regulations.
Unfortunately, not all states or cities have clear laws about whether you can ride an e-bike on a sidewalk. If the state or city doesn’t define laws for e-bikes, it’s usually safe to assume that you can follow the rules for regular bicycles. Keep in mind that legislation can change, and there are many proposed laws in the works regarding where you can and cannot drive an e-bike.
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.