Electric Bicycle Laws and Safety Information: Is My E-Bike Legal?
Electric bicycles or “e-bikes” have small motors that may assist traditional pedaling or fully motorize the propulsion to give the rider a scooter-like experience. Some can travel up to almost 30 mph and offer a green, pedal-optional mode of transit for riders. Most of the time, they qualify as bicycles. As such, they’re subject to Missouri’s bicycle laws, as long as they don’t exceed 50 cc and a maximum speed of 30 mph on flat ground. Anything with a motor cylinder capacity that exceeds 50cc is considered a motorcycle under state law.
Here’s what you need to know about our state’s e-bike/mini-motorcycle/scooter laws
- Roadway operation. Unless you have a driver’s license, it’s illegal to ride an e-bike on roads. Anyone riding an e-bike on a road must follow the rules for motor vehicles, not bicycles. You can ride an e-bike on any roadway with a speed limit equal to or less than 30 mph or the maximum speed of the bike. Always ride as far to the right of the road as possible.
- General licensing, insurance, and registration. You don’t have to register an e-bike or hold a license to operate one off the road. Insurance does define all e-bikes in the state as motor vehicles, however.
- Helmet requirements. You must wear a helmet on an e-bike, regardless of where you ride.
- Sidewalk use. You can’t ride an e-bike on a sidewalk.
- Brakes. It’s illegal to operate an e-bike without brakes. Brakes should allow for a complete stop from a speed of 10 miles in 25 feet on flat ground.
- Lights/reflectors. Riders must use a front headlamp, attached or carried, and a rear reflector from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
- Riding on the shoulder. Bicyclists and e-bike riders can ride on the shoulder, but they don’t have to.
If you ride an e-bike in the state, remember the rules for both bicycles and motor vehicles. Always ask for clarification before taking an e-bike on trails or other alternative-roadways, and never let unlicensed children and teens ride e-bikes. Make sure you understand how your bike is classified before you take it on the road. If it has a larger motor, you may need to follow the rules of a motorcycle instead of a bicycle, and take additional considerations such as turn signals into account before heading out on the road.
Safety Tips for a Wonderful Experience With Your E-Bike
As a cross between a traditional bike and a motorcycle, the dangers of traditional bike riding are compounded by speed. While you can keep up with traffic better than you might on a traditional bike, you need to understand the limitations of your e-bike well before taking it on a road and operating it as a motor vehicle. Here are some tips to help you operate an e-bike safely:
- Pay attention to maintenance. An e-bike has a motor, and like any other motor, it’ll need maintenance to run smoothly. Follow the recommendations in the manual to avoid maintenance-related accidents.
- Use hand signals. Whether you ride a traditional bike or an e-bike on the road, you need to use proper signaling to give other bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers an indication of your intended movement.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing. Although e-bikes offer an eco-friendly commute option, loose pants could spell trouble for your clothes and your safety. Use a tie to secure loose clothing, or change when you get to your destination.
- Understand your e-bike’s limitations. Ride on non-roadway paths or in a rural area first. Familiarize yourself with the handling of the bike, braking, speed, and taking turns.
If you or a loved one is ever injured in a bicycle or any other type of auto collision, contact an experienced auto accident lawyer in Kansas City, MO after you first have obtained the necessary medical attention.