Electric bikes are simply bicycles that have a motor attached to the pedals and are powered by a battery. There are many variations and models available for those wishing to save money and are considering an alternate form of transportation. An informed decision on the choice of bicycle depends on staying current on the laws of the state in which it will be used. Since electric bikes are gaining in popularity, it is important to stay abreast of the changing laws with regards to their use on public roads.

Federal law limits the speed of electric bikes to 20 miles per hour and the battery power cannot exceed 750 watts. Cyclists must obey the same traffic laws and operators of automobiles. Cyclists do not need a driver's license, insurance or a "state license " plate to ride on public roads though some highways prohibit bicycles of any type. In most states it is illegal to ride a bicycle on sidewalks and it is certainly unsafe as motorists are not looking for bicycles at intersections but on the road and may not see a cyclist in time to avoid a crash.

Available states will be listed alphabetically and any differences in Federal law as stated above will be highlighted. If there is no difference, it will not be mentioned. It is stressed to make sure the laws are current for the state and locality in which the electric bike will be operated by checking with local officials. Local laws can restrict the use of electric bikes further.

Alabama - State license Class M is required for operation of any motor vehicle. Operators under 14 must have a learner's permit.

Arkansas - State license Class A, B, C or D required or a motorcycle license, certificate to operate a motorized bicycle or a motor-driven cycle license. Children under 10 years old cannot be issued certificates. There is no law specific to electric bikes but the motor cannot exceed 50 cc.

California - Helmet required. Maximum battery power 1000 watts. Minimum age is 16.

Colorado - Maximum power cannot exceed 1000 watts.

Connecticut - Valid motor vehicle license required unless excused by a doctor. Motor cannot exceed 50 cc.

Florida - Minimum age is 16.

Hawaii - Electric bikes are illegal.

Indiana - Same laws as Federal.

Iowa - Same laws as Federal.

Kentucky - Driver's license and helmet required.

Louisiana - License, registration and helmet required. Minimum age is 15 years.

Massachusetts - License and helmet required. Minimum age is 16 years.

Minnesota - License, registration and helmet required. Minimum age is 16 years.

Nevada - Same laws as Federal.

New Jersey - Electric bikes are illegal on public roads.

New York - Electric bikes are currently illegal on public roads.

Ohio - Electric bikes are illegal without registration of certain models but generally accepted as standard bicycles.

Oregon - Same laws as Federal.

Pennsylvania - Class C license, insurance and registration required.

Tennessee - Helmet required. Minors from 14-16 must have restricted license.

Texas - Weight of electric bicycle cannot exceed 100 pounds. Cyclists under age 21 are required to wear helmet unless excused by physician or chiropractor.

Utah - Driver's license required.

Virginia - Same laws as Federal.

Washington - Minors under 16 are prohibited from operating an electric bicycle.

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Texas - Weight of electric bicycle cannot exceed 100 pounds. Cyclists under age 21 are required to wear helmet unless excused by physician or chiropractor.