The auto industry has been around us for decades and its regulations have become quite clear for both the consumers and the producers. However, the emergence of emissions-free transportation sources in recent years has given birth to new laws that are governing their sale & usage in the public domain. One notable means of transportation that has gained traction in the past few years is electric bicycles or ebikes that are essentially motor-assisted. But there seems to be an ambiguity surrounding the classification, sale & usage of ebikes which is pretty much similar to what we've come to expect from any latest technology that hits the market.
This blog briefly goes over the ebike laws & regulations in various countries so you can get an idea as to where each country stands.
Ebike Laws & Regulations in the US:
In the United States, the ebike laws & regulations concerning their sales, categorization, and usage are formulated both at the federal & state level. Some important highlights of U.S ebike regulations are mentioned below:
Almost all the ebike are exempt from classification as motor vehicles, which is why they neither require registration nor a driver’s license (some states may require a driver’s license). However, this applies only to ebikes that come with pedals, have a motor output limited to 1 hp or 750W and those that have a motor propelled top speed of 20 mph.
Ebikes are further divided into three classes based upon their specifications and features. Most of the time, each class has its regulation, though, some regulations are generalized and applied to each class without any discrimination.
Regulations vary widely across the states with NYC ebike law & the California ebike law being two of the strictest laws across the entire country.
It may come as a surprise but some states, as a safety concern, have started requiring an adult supervisor alongside a rider aged 16 or below. Though it is pertinent to mention here that the minimum age for electric bike riders is set at 14, which again, varies across states.
A fresh bill has been introduced recently in the U.S senate that would allow buyers to get a maximum ebike tax credit of up to $1500. This not only will increase the presence of ebikes but will also reduce carbon emissions & road congestion in the cities.
Ebike Laws & Regulations in Canada:
Just like the automotive industry, the ebike regulations in Canada are also quite similar to what we have here in the U.S. Though, regulations in Canada are relatively more safety-oriented and require some additional procedures which, thankfully, aren't a big issue even for someone new to that country. Some important excerpts are mentioned below:
Only the electric bicycles with a maximum power output of up to 500W are classified as ebikes and only such bikes are allowed to enjoy ebikes privileges.
Alberta even allows 12-year-old kids to ride an ebike, though, this is not the same case all over the country. The age limit in some other states/provinces such as British Columbia & Ontario is set at 16 years.
Unlike the U.S, there is no class system for ebikes. All ebikes have to conform to the power output limit of 500W but they are allowed to reach a top speed of 50 mph.
Helmets are a must in every state, on the other hand, the majority of states don't require licensing.
Ebike tax credit or incentives are already in place in Canada and anyone purchasing or leasing an ebike is eligible for a $2500 to $5000 incentive.
Ebikes Laws & Regulations in Europe:
The European Union or EU is a bloc of 27 countries, so regulations drafted by the EU are applicable & enforced in all the 27 member nations. Nonetheless, some member states do enact some additional regulations according to their needs:
Electric bikes in the EU are limited to a power output of 200-250W and a top speed of 25 km/h(15.5 mph), any other motor-assisted bike with a higher top speed or power output is classified as something else.
Ebikes with a top speed higher than 25 km/h are not called ebikes, but they do come under the umbrella of ebikes and are further divided into three classes, taking the total class number to 4.
For the sake of preventing thefts & recovering a stolen ebike, all the owners are required to register & insure their ebike.
The general age limit is set at 14 years and helmets are a must for every rider, however, their usage can be exempted in certain conditions or member states.
There aren’t any specific tax credits available for ebikes in the EU, though, there are several cycling subsidies available that may or may not apply to electric bicycles.
Ebike Laws & Regulations in Australia:
Australia is a relatively smaller country with regards to population which is the reason why there’s less variation in electric bike laws by each state. Nevertheless, some differences are there which can be attributed to different road & legal conditions in every state.
Just like the EU, Australia also only considers those assisted bikes as ebikes that have a maximum output power of 200-250W.
There is no need to acquire a license or registration for an ebike in any state of Australia which means there exist uniform regulations as far as registration & licensing of ebikes is concerned.
The top speed for throttle-only acceleration is limited to just 6 km/h, whereas the pedal-assisted maximum speed limit is set at 25 km/h, just like in the EU.
The minimum age limit is 12 years which is currently enforced only in New South Wales; however, bicycle helmets and other such bicycle safety gear is a must in every state.
Although there isn’t a specific ebike tax credit or incentive available at the moment in Australia, there is a ruling by ATO on ebikes that clarifies the taxes on such bicycles.
Ebike Laws & Regulation in Asia:
Asia is the densest region in the world and the swift rollout of ebikes by its largest nation China means there are some regulations already in place. However, unlike Europe & Australia, there aren’t any uniform regulations that govern the usage and sale of electric bicycles, therefore, we will have to generalize the regulations in Asia.
Any ebike with a power output ranging between 250W and 400W can be sold as an electric bicycle.
The speed limit is set at 25 km/h, which is understandable since most Asian city roads are somewhat narrower than the ones in the U.S & Canada.
Ebike registration is mandatory in the majority of popular ebike countries in Asia such as Japan & China.
Lastly, ebike driving laws are relatively stringent in Asia and therefore heavy penalties aren’t something new to the region.
The popularity of ebikes is steadily increasing with each passing day and that will undoubtedly result in more regulations in the future. The eco-friendly nature of ebikes has allowed them to carve out their market in almost all the countries and it is now up to us to follow all the laws & regulations so they can emerge as a safe and even more popular means of transportation in the future.