All Ebikes Allowed on the Sidewalk in US?
If you have been riding a bike for more than a week, you know it is tough to keep up with fast foot traffic or even keep up to the average pace of a walker. But with an electric bike, it is much easier. Electric bikes are gaining in popularity and making more and more appearances in urban areas.
This is great for people who want to avoid long waits at intersections or do not want to work on their leg muscles as hard as they would need to if they were riding a regular bicycle (which is also good if you want some cardio).
Can you ride an electric bike on the sidewalk in the US?
Yes. Ideally, most states in the US allow people to ride ebike on the sidewalk, provided they ride them under 20 MPH and meet the expected safety rules. Also, most states ask riders to wear a helmet when riding an electric bike. However, the law on electric bike use varies from state to state. In some states, an electric bike is considered a vehicle and may be ridden on the street or bicycle path like any other vehicle.
In contrast, in other states, it is considered a "motorized scooter" and cannot be ridden on sidewalks. Check with your local DOT before riding an e-bike where you are not supposed to.
Pros of Riding an Electric Bike on Sidewalks
For starters, riding your e-bike on sidewalks is a great way to help minimize car pollution. With less traffic congestion, people spend less time sitting in bumper-to-run traffic.
Sidewalks allow you to get around quicker. You do not have to worry about getting your e-bike stuck in traffic.
Sidewalks allow you to take a break on a bench or a café and enjoy the view. It is a great way to build an appetite before returning to your bike.
You are not always fighting the crowds (and yet you are still near them). When riding on sidewalks, there is more peace, space, and calm. It is less risky than riding right through traffic (with no bike lanes), but it offers some shelter from cars.
Cons of Riding an Electric Bike on Sidewalks
You are not allowed to ride your e-bike on sidewalks in most states in the US. If you want to stick to the rules, you must ride your bike in the street. This can be dangerous in some states as there are no bike lanes. However, it is far more dangerous for cyclists to share with cars and motorized vehicles: so do not let this fact discourage you from riding your e-bike.
Sidewalk riding can be slow (particularly if there is no traffic). If you try to ride faster than the usual pedestrian, you will be breaking the law, and your e-bike might not be allowed on that street.
Since you have a motor in your bike, it does not mean it is any more of a legal vehicle than it was before. You still need to register/license your e-bike and follow local laws.
Sidewalk riding makes it easier to get into accidents with pedestrians and scooters. You will have less control over your bike since you are not in the street (and in a bike lane).
Tips for riding an e-bike on the sidewalk
If you want to ride your bike on the sidewalk, here are some tips for finding success:
Use what works best
An e-bike's size and weight will dictate what it can do best. Smaller bikes with higher torque at lower speeds make great street riding machines. Larger bikes are better suited to trail riding or commuting long distances. You also need to be cognizant of the speed limit in your area (some neighborhoods have limited bicycle access).
Consider your safety
Riding on a sidewalk can be dangerous, particularly for cyclists who may not have the training to ride safely. Ensure you are well-versed in riding safely, and consider taking a bicycle safety course or renting a bike helmet if needed.
Like any road, sidewalks are shared by people from all kinds of backgrounds. Respect those around you and follow all traffic laws. Do not share the sidewalk with pedestrians, and avoid crossing outside of crosswalks at all times (even if the walk light is green). Ride with traffic, avoid riding against it towards oncoming traffic, and watch for others around you. Be especially cautious if you are riding your bike.
Shifting to a small wheeled device may take some getting used to, but with a little practice, you can ride more efficiently and confidently. Remember that your electric bike should be treated like any other vehicle. Expect drivers and pedestrians to look out for you and other motorized vehicles on the road.
Respect the laws
Riding an e-bike on the sidewalk is legal in most areas, but it still requires respect for everyone else around you. If riding is permitted, always obey traffic laws (do not ride more than five miles per hour slower than the speed limit). If riding is prohibited, treat this like any other road and be aware of those around you.
Make others aware
If you see someone using an e-bike on a sidewalk or bike lane, let them know - they will appreciate knowing that support for e-bikes is growing. If they can legally ride on the sidewalk, let them know about your local laws and regulations about where they can ride.
When it comes to riding a bike, there are rules of the road that all cyclists must follow. One rule is that upon entering a pedestrian path, drivers must yield to cyclists and pedestrians by stopping at any crosswalk or when it is safe to do so. Some general rules apply to cyclists as well; for example, cyclists are not allowed to ride more than two abreast, and they must use a bike path if one exists. Regardless of where you live, cyclists must follow these rules.