Bicycle Road Rules – eBikes on Sidewalks okay?
Generally, biking on sidewalks is not allowed. In most parts of the country electric bike and non-electric bikes are treated the same as motor vehicles. Therefore, taking your e-bike or normal bike onto the sidewalk can get you into trouble. Bikes on sidewalks are viewed as dangerous for pedestrians walking on them. If you do decide to ride on the sidewalk it is recommended to go slower and be cautious of the pedestrians walking. For the most part in the US electric bikes are classified as bicycles so you can ride them wherever a bicycle is permitted. We say generally, as there may be some exceptions to this. It is up to the rider to familiarize themselves with their local rules and regulations regarding ebikes before heading out for a ride. Bicycle road rules will vary from state to state. Below are some basic bicycle road rules that will help you have a safe and enjoyable time riding your ebike.
Basic Bicycle Road Rules
1. Drive on the right half of the road, close to sidewalk
2. Yield to traffic that is already on the road
3. Use proper bike signals when making turns
4. Stop at all stop signs and red lights
5. Allow faster vehicles to pass when necessary
California E-Bike Road Rules
In California, E-Bikes are regulated just like normal bicycles are. There are no separate rules or regulations regarding owning an E-Bike. You don’t have to have a special license, registration, or insurance to own and operate an e-bike. The standard bicycle road rules apply to e-bikes just as they would to any other bicycle. California classifies an e-bike into three different categories:
Category 1: The e-bike has a motor that works through a pedal assist system and does not exceed 20mph in assistance to the rider.
Category 2: The e-bike is equipped with a throttle-assisted motor that can go no faster than 20mph. The electric cruiser bike called the Beach Bum from Tower is considered a category 2 e-bike.
Category 3: The e-bike has a motor that works through a pedal assist system but ceases to assist the rider above 28mph. Bicycle road rules require the rider to wear a helmet if you own a category 3 e-bike. Additionally, you cannot ride a category 3 e-bike if you are under 16 years of age unless they are a passenger.
In California State Parks, category 1 and category 2 e-bikes are allowed anywhere normal bicycles are allowed unless sp
ecifically said otherwise. Fortunately, in many cities and counties in California and around the country, local governments are creating bike lanes to ensure the safety of ebike and bike riders on the roads. Overall, California is a very bike friendly state. To view if your state is bike friendly see this Bicycle friendly State Ranking. To understand your state Ebike road rules see these state by state E-bike guides.
Note: Something to be wary of while riding on the sidewalk is that electric bikes travel at higher speeds than traditional bicycles, and with motor assistance it can be easy to ride at a higher speed than you intend to without noticing, which makes avoiding pedestrians a little challenging.
Note: When riding in pedal assist mode, in order to avoid the motor turning on and off every time you stop pedaling momentarily, there is a slight delay from when you stop pedaling to when the motor will actually turn. This will cause you to carry speed a little more than you may expect and may make avoiding obstacles a little tricky if you are not aware of this feature.