Electric Bikes in PA Need Your Help!
Electric bikes in Pennsylvania are being treated unfairly and they need your help! Currently PA law classifies electric bikes as a moped which makes it more of a hassle to own.
Gary DiVincenzo president of Hybrid Cycles from Chester Springs, PA sent me this letter that I want to share with you.
“Pennsylvania’s electric bicycle law stifles a promising industry and inhibits our citizens from enjoying the benefits of this new technology applied to one of the oldest and most basic forms of transportation ever invented. The e-bike industry is destine to play an important role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, lowering carbon emissions and urban congestion. They are a perfect form of transportation for the 40% of automobile trips in America that are under five miles.
Pennsylvania law classifies e-bikes as “Mopeds” and requires them to be registered, insured and the operator to have a class “c” driver’s license. We are one of only five states restricting the use of electric bikes in this manner. The Federal Government, under HR727, classifies them as bicycles.
Electric bicycles are a bicycle in every respect as a conventional bike. They are quiet, don’t go any faster and although they may weigh slightly more than today’s modern bikes they are still within the weight range of conventional bikes.
The electric bicycle industry is growing rapidly around the world and in some countries exceeds the sales of conventional bikes. They are a remarkable form of pollution-free transportation that opens the door for many people who can’t or wouldn’t ordinarily ride a bike.
E-bike commuters aren’t all sweaty when they arrive at work and more importantly they save on gas, parking and reduce congestion. E-Bikes cost about eight cents per mile to operate.
Many people with health issues preventing them from riding a regular bike now have an option with an electric bike. E-bikes can potentially reduce obesity and lower many of the health risks that plague our society. Especially in Pennsylvania where the hills are just too challenging for the average bike rider.
We can dispel the myth that you don’t get exercise on an electric bike. You have to pedal. The motor just gives you a boost when you need it and the rider is in control of how much boost. So like any exercise machine, you can control how much effort you want to exert based on your endurance level.
Please share this with your local representative and request that they sponsor legislation that will regulate electric bicycles as ordinary bicycles.”
Gary makes some great points about the benefits of electric bikes and also makes a good case for why they should not be classified as mopeds.
Please let the Governor and local Representatives of Pennsylvania know that we don’t want electric bikes classified as mopeds. Below are links to them:
State Representative Curt Shroder
State Senator Andy Dinniman
Governor Edward G. Rendell
AND/OR, please leave a comment below showing your support that we don’t want electric bikes classified as mopeds. You can use your Facebook or Twitter login to leave a comment.
P.S. Don’t forget to get sign up for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips! (upper right hand corner of this site)
well I am disabled and my disability they will not allow me to have a drivers licence so I been looking into other means of travel so that I can get to and from the store since there is no local transportation i began looking for trike to convert in electric powered and i glad i have gotten to read this message before i spent every dime i saved up to get the trike and the electric power for it i will have to review on a means and the state of pa doses not cattier to its disabled people so if you disabled you have find your own means to get to the grocery store. I have to combat three types of seizures and a broken spin the seizures why i am refused a driver licence my injuries came from serving in the military and i am trying to keep my independence and ability to get to and from store that no more then mile and haft down the road and be able to bring the groceries home walking is ok just cant carry and i clicked on the three links above to write my political reps and gee there no means of contacting them says page no longer available.
I would like to see the laws changed; I didn’t even know electric bikes and scooters were considered the same as mopeds in PA. We live in the country in Chester Springs, and I had wanted to get bikes for my teenagers to ride to their barn down the road to ride their horses.
Thanks for the article!
In 2001, the U. S. Congress passed Public Law 107-319 which exempts electric bicycles under 750 watts/20 mph from the definition of a motor vehicle only “For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards…”, which means that the manufacturers of these bicycles don’t have to meet federal equipment requirements, and are instead governed by the manufacturing requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act. There is no mention of exemption from other federal, state, and local traffic laws, or exemption from the definition of a motor vehicle for other purposes.
Various states have passed their own laws. California law states that no driver’s license, license plate, nor insurance is required. You must be 16 years or older and wear a standard bicycle helmet. Electric bikes are subject to all the rules of the road, and additional laws governing the operation and safety of electric bicycles may be extended by state or local governments. It’s legally a bicycle, so you can use it wherever and however you can use a bike. Washington law is similar.
Federal law trumps all States’ laws. That is true with bicycle law, too. States cannot constitutionally pass legislation that reduces or eliminates Federal laws, they can only pass legislation that enacts additional (tighter) restrictions on its people. This means that no State can enact legislation that allows wattages or speeds greater than the Federal Government’s limit of 750 Watts and a top electric-powered speed of 20MPH. States can only legislate LOWER wattages and top-speeds (which, to our knowledge has not been done by any state). An e-bike can go over 20 MPH, but not by means of the motor. No matter what state you bike in, bicycle speeds on public roads above 20MPH cannot legally be motor-assisted. As a practical matter, police don’t notice bikes going too fast.
If you live in a state that lacks basic electric bike legislation, consider this. Although riding your electric bike may be illegal, so is jay-walking. Generally speaking, 1) police don’t know the exact rules, 2) police expect electric bike and scooter riders to wear a bicycle helmet, 3) most electric bikes look to the casual observer like ordinary bikes, and 4) if you get ticketed, just go to court and plead your case; judges usually let you off with a warning. And start working your state legislature to enact an electric bicycle law similar to California’s.
Are there special insurance requirements?
No insurance is required to ride an e-bike. However, if you want to insure it against theft, check your current homeowner’s insurance policy. An electric bicycle may be covered. To determine coverage, check with your insurance company or agent.
Is an electric bicycle considered a zero emission vehicle?
Yes. While some communities only define ZEV’s as car replacements, others are looking for alternative ways to reduce sources of mobile pollution. Electric bikes have qualified for electric vehicle credits in some communities. Check with your local environmental management group for clarification. Every time you take a short trip on your electric bicycle rather than a car, you delete a cold start that would have added a significant amount of pollution.
What are the laws regarding mopeds?
Most motor vehicles must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Motorized bicycles (mopeds) are exempt from registration (sec. 4020), but must display a special plate issued by the department (sec. 5030). EABs do not even have to display the plate (sec. 24016(b)(3)).
Bruce Kahn says
As you noted in your article above, here in Pennsylvania we’re trying to get our legislature to amend the motor vehicle code to include a classification for electric assist bikes based on the Federal code. The current code really doesn’t distinguish between electric assist bikes and motorcycles!
We are starting an organization called “Ebikers for Freedom in Pennsylvania.” You can find us on Facebook at:
Please ask your readers and customers to “Like” the page to show support for our cause!
I am 24 years old and currently live in Enola PA,
I just recently lost my license due to medical reasons, so I have to work close to home, stuck at the low paying dead end job, but with an electric BIYCLE it would be easier for me to get a better job, and then get further in life, instead of being poor, I personly belive that they should be thought of as BICYCLES because they r a smarter and better way of travel, for people like me who can’t drive it would be very benificial cause we could still work, be able to get to work and wouldn’t have to worry about loseing everything over car trouble, I owned on at one point, yeah I paid 500 bucks for it, but I didn’t put anything into it besides lights and batterys for the lights and I traveled from county to county on mine, with out that ability, I would have been homless cause of missing work, so I am behind this movement 100% if anything els I can do to help this let me know,
the government is always talking about makeing things better but are afraid they will lose there Mercedes benz if they do something to help the poverty line, they are so worried about money, money dont matter if u have nothing to do with it, step up to the plate, make a stand and say, “”
“YES THEY ARE BICYCLES” if other states think so we should to, it would increase Americas ability to join the work force because transportation would be easier to get,
Thank You for reading my post,
ROBERT KUHI says
My wife has an ebike. When we go cycling together, she cannot keep up to me on my pedal powered 21 speed. What kind of logic does PA use to force her to register, insure her bike and require a driver’s license. Yet, I with the faster vehicle am not required to do any of those things.
Why does the federal law which treats slow ebikes as plain bikes not apply in PA?
John Derrickson says
I’m hoping the Pennsylvania legislators will be mindful of senior citizens without driver license. I quit driving in 1975 and now, at 66, I think I’m too old to be trusted behind the wheel of a high-speed vehicle. And, at my advanced age, my sense of balance is greatly diminished so I have installed stabilizer wheels (like kid’s trainer wheels, but for adults), so I hope any new law doesn’t count my bicycle as a four-wheel vehicle requiring a license. I don’t mind paying insurance (I already have liability insurance) but I refuse to obtain a driver license and getting tags for a user-modified bicycle is practically impossible.
Catherine Tolliver says
Furious. We are older but e concerned, so we are having a pedego electric bike shop …sitting and WAITING at 2435 beechwood blvd., pittsburgh, pa 15217 until they get RID of these silly restrictions. I, along with other ebike dealers deserve to have our alternative to regular bikes approved for a whole generation of babyboomers who need this alternative, not mention the young commuters in PITTSBURGH! Write emails to Dick Hess, he’s the co-chair of the transporation committee pushing the bill to allow e bikes. Thank you 2/25/2013
I am getting older and cannot walk as well as I once did. An electric bicycle would help me get groceries at a local 7/11 only 1 mile away from my house. Without this assisted transportation, I must go without or have a painful walk of two miles (1 mile each way). No buses or other transportation is available in my neighborhood. A no insurance, non registered 20 mph 500 watt bicycle would help with the hills and my limited social security.
I am getting older and cannot walk as well as I once did. An electric bicycle would help me get groceries at a local 7/11 only 1 mile away from my house. Without this assisted transportation, I must go without or have a painful walk of two miles (1 mile each way). No buses or other transportation is available in my neighborhood. A no insurance, non registered 20 mph 500 watt bicycle would help with the hills and my limited social security. ELECTRIC BICYCLES are bicycles.