Ebike Laws

Follow the rules of the road for electric bikes and pedal-assist bikes in New York State. They’ve recently been expanded to accommodate electric bike and pedal-assist riders, opening up more roads to travelers.

Below are the most current rules on the books:

New York State

Operating an electric scooter or bicycle with electric assist

Effective April 2020 – the law allows people to operate bicycles with electric assist (e-bikes) on some streets and highways in New York State.

Effective August 2, 2020
 – the law allows people to operate electric scooters (e-scooters) and bicycles with electric assist (e-bikes) on some streets and highways in New York State.

  • Electric scooter – a type of device with handlebars, a floorboard or a seat, and an electric motor that can be powered by the electric motor and/or human power. 1
  • Bicycle with electric assist – multiple classes of bicycle with an electric motor and operable pedals. 2 A bicycle with electric assist doesn’t qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, limited use motorcycle, moped or ATV and doesn’t have the same equipment.

You can operate an electric scooter or bicycle with electric assist on some streets and highways in New York State:

  • you can operate these devices on highways with a posted speed limit of 30 MPH or less
  • municipalities can further regulate the time, place and manner of operation of these devices
  • you cannot operate these devices on a sidewalk except as authorized by local law or ordinance

Note: An electric scooter or bicycle with electric assist cannot be registered but still may be operated on some streets and highways in New York State.

Another note: pay particular attention to the rules when riding in New York State parks. Minnewaska State Park, for example, limits electric bike travel in the park to Class 1 e-bikes only. These are defined as a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour. It’s your basic pedal-assist bike.

Electric Bikes (E-Bikes)

DEC manages many different categories of property, with each allowing different types of recreation. For questions about what is permitted on an individual DEC-managed property, contact the regional program staff (map with general regional contacts), who manage the property in question.

For clarification purposes, Class 1 Electric Bikes or E-bikes, are bicycles with an electric motor that provides assistance only when pedaling and ceases to aid pedaling when 20 miles per hour has been reached. The following sections define the general E-bike usage allowed on each of the different DEC-managed land types.

State Forests, Multiple Use Areas and Unique Areas

Like traditional mountain bikes, class 1 electric bikes or E-bikes are permitted to travel on any existing road or trail on State Forests unless the road or trail is posted as closed for this use. The Agency may prohibit mountain bikes and E-bikes from any trail as necessary, and will post the appropriate signage at parking areas, trailheads, kiosks, etc. to let users know.

Forest Preserve

E-bikes are allowed on public roads managed by DEC but are prohibited on all Forest Preserve trails. The exception is the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor where only class 1 E-bikes are allowed.

Conservation Easements

Currently there are no conservation easements (CE) that allow E-bike use. The DEC land manager, in consultation with the landowner, may designate E-bike routes on a protected property through the recreation management planning process. Once designated, the private roads and trails would be posted as open to E-bikes through signage, kiosks and/or other public outreach efforts. Questions regarding E-bike use on CE lands should be directed to the DEC Lands and Forests office nearest to the eased property.

Wildlife Management Areas

Per 6 NYCRR Part 51 (Public Use of Wildlife Management Areas), E-bikes are considered a motorized vehicle and are subject to all regulations regarding motorized vehicle use on WMAs. E-bikes may be used on WMA public roads, unless the road is posted against such use. Off-road use (including trails, roads, or terrain other than a public road or parking area) of E-bikes is prohibited, unless specifically allowed by posted notice or with written permission from the Regional Manager. Before visiting a WMA, please review the complete Part 51 regulations. Additional area-specific regulations may also apply and will supersede the general Part 51 regulations.

Trail Etiquette

Adapted from the International Mountain Bicycling Association's "Rules of the Trail."

Ride Open Trails

  • Respect trail and road closures - ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail.
  • Do not trespass on private land.
  • Obtain permits or other authorization as required.
  • Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as State or Federal Wilderness.

Leave No Trace

  • Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options.
  • Stay on existing trails and do not create new ones.
  • Don't cut switchbacks.
  • Pack out at least as much as you pack in.

Control Your Bicycle

  • Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

Yield Appropriately

  • Let your fellow trail users know you're coming - a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods.
  • Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners.
  • Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel.
  • Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.
  • In general, strive to respect everyone you meet on the trail.

Never Scare Animals

  • Respect wildlife and wildlife habitat. Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise.
  • Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you.
  • When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain).

Plan Ahead

  • Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly.
  • Strive to be self-sufficient:
    • Keep your equipment in good repair.
    • Carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.
    • Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear

Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species