Many people in the USA have been huge fans of electric bikes lately - they’re fast, eco-friendly, and great for everyday use. However, electric bikes remain a grey area in law, mostly because they’re so new and the models on the market change so much. To remain informed and safe from taxes or penalties, we suggest reading on.
How does the state of Maryland declares what an electric bike is.
Maryland’s definition of an electric bike includes a description of a bicycle that has operational pedals, a motor that doesn’t exceed 750W of power, and a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. In addition, the bike's motor must completely stop aiding speed to the vehicle when 28 miles per hour are reached.
The usual three classes of electric bikes include:
- class 1 - electric bikes with a motor that assists when you pedal, reaching the maximum speed of 20 miles per hour
- class 2 - electric bikes with a motor that aids when you pedal (and when you don’t), but only up to 20 miles per hour
- class 3 - electric bikes that assist when you pedal, but the maximum speed is slightly higher, 28 miles per hour
How powerful can my bike be? Your electric bike should not exceed 750W of power.
Do I need a license or insurance? No, there are no special licenses that you must acquire, no registrations or insurance documents either.
Do I need to wear a helmet? Absolutely - all riders need to have helmets, no matter the age and bike class.
Are there age restrictions to look out for? There is a restriction for class 3 bikes only, and you must be over 16 to operate one. There are no age restrictions for passengers, though, only drivers.
Can I ride on the road? Electric bikes are allowed on certain roads only - those governed by Maryland Transportation Authority. However, for class 3 bikes, there are additional guidelines - you must ride on the far right, and you must consult local authorities.
Can I modify my bike? When we talk about modifications, only aesthetically-focused ones are allowed. For example, you cannot modify the motor's power or the speed to go over the guided limit.
Are there any forbidden stunts? Any stunts done on sidewalks, and in most cases even riding on sidewalks where there are no exclusive “bike-allowing” signs, are strictly forbidden. The safety of the pedestrians comes first.What about mountain bikes? An electric mountain bike should not be used in areas where you can’t find signs or guidelines. These bikes might not even be allowed on certain trails intended for non-motorized vehicles. Make sure to consult local managers, as the rules change quite often.
If you know what class your bike falls into, you’ll have a much easier time following the stated guidelines. However, be aware of those situations where no guidelines have been stated - you might get in trouble if you, in any way or form, disrupt the traffic or the pedestrians.