More Motorized Bicycles

Question

Punkie commented:

The way you have your page is more confusing than helpful when trying to state the facts.

I know from first hand what the state laws are for any motorized bicycle either it be electric or by fuel.

The lay is as follows.

Any bicycle with an electric motor 750 watts or less and does not exceed more than 20 mph is legal to operate on public streets where the speed limit is 45 mph or less and on sidewalk and must yield the right of way to pedestrians and disability vehicles.

Bicycles are not legal if equipped with a gas-powered engine.

Motors are not engines nor is any engine a motor. Motors are powered by electric and engines are powered by fossil fuels.

Anything 49cc or under is required to have a regular operator’s license and anything 50cc or above must possess A. motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license B. Must possess a motorcycle license!

There are some municipal laws, regulations and rules in some city in the state of Florida that have there on laws and regulations concerning disability vehicles and electric powered bicycles so it’s up to individuals to check the cities municipal laws and regulations.

You can not get a registration for a lown more to operate on public streets any more than you can a motorized bicycle unless if has all the requirements and safety equipment.

A 49cc moped is legal to operate on public streets with an operator’s license because it has a registration and must have a tag also.

Answer

I agree that the subject of motorized bicycles and motorized cycles is confusing. There are many statutes that apply, including those for type of vehicle, traffic law, drivers’ licenses and registration. Additionally, the DMV seems to have a different interpretation of the legality of motorized bicycles. We agree with your statement on that. See this previous post on that subject:

http://flbikelaw.org/2013/07/bikes-with-gas-assist-motors-something-new/

We try to present all of the details of the applicable laws to allow everyone to have information to answer all their questions on the site. That is why the information is divided into vehicle types such as mopeds, motorized bicycles and others.

Your information is correct about motorized bicycles, except that there is no mention of 750 watts in the statute that defines a bicycle, only the 20 mph.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride ….

eBikes defined above are bicycles and are legal vehicles. There are no requirements for additional safety or other equipment for motorized bicycles that meet the statutory definition of “bicycle”.

The speed limit of the roadway has nothing to do with it except bicycles are prohibited from limited access highways.

Your comment about motorized bicycles on sidewalks is incorrect. Only vehicles under human power are permitted on sidewalks, except for motorized wheelchairs and some other exceptional cases.

s. 316.1995Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

(1) Except as provided in s. 316.008 or s. 316.212(8), a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.

You are correct that we should be aware of local regulations authorized by s. 316.008 above.

Your definitions of motors and engines are different from those in Webster’s Dictionary.

Engine – A machine for converting thermal energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion.

Motor – 1. A comparatively small and powerful engine, esp. an internal-combustion engine in an automobile, motorboat, or the like.

4. Also called electric motor, a machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, as in an induction motor.

The most common usage for motor seems to be the first. I have never heard of an engineboat or an enginecycle, but motorboats and motorcycles are powered by fuel.

All of the details for traffic law, registration, licensing and types of vehicles are in other posts on the site.

Posted in Ask Geo, Motorized Bicycles Tagged with: , , ,
5 comments on “More Motorized Bicycles
  1. Dwight Kingsbury says:

    The confusion about a 750 watt limit on power output of an electric-assist bicycle’s motor has probably arisen because (1) a few other states include such a limit for electric-assist bicycles in their traffic codes and/or (2) the federal definition of “low-speed electric bicycle” (in 15 USC 2085) mentions a 750 watt power limit.

    The only effect of the federal definition is to describe the sort of low-speed electric bicycles that are subject to Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations, i.e., as a consumer product. CPSC regulations do not establish traffic laws; they describe standards that consumer products must meet, for purposes of federal law. Each state adopts its own road rules; under the US constitution, the power to regulate the movement of traffic on public roads and ways has been left to the states.

  2. Geo says:

    Keithmj,
    Thanks for the other post about St. Pete’s local ordinances requiring city registration. Many communities have local ordinances that we must consider before operating any vehicle. They are numerous and varied and are not listed on this site.
    The article in your link does not specify that an eBike that meets the statutory definition of “bicycle” is in fact, a bicycle, and does not require a driver’s license, state registration or a title to be operated legally. Bicycles are not motor vehicles and are not subject to the same rules under certain circumstances, however, most traffic ordinances apply to all vehicles, and not just motor vehicles.
    I believe the article is addressed to operators of gas-assist motors on bicycles which are always unlawful. See the posts under “motorized bicycles” in the tag cloud and the post linked above in the answer to the main question for more info.

  3. diane says:

    how about getting ticketed as a disabled person riding an electric wheelchair on the sidewalk when there’s no where else to use it ? are electric wheelchairs for a disabled person allowed on the sidewalk, i’m sure they’re not allowed on the street. not allowing them is preventing a disabled person from going to a store, going to a post office, being able to get around!

  4. Geo says:

    Diane,

    It is legal to use a motorized wheelchair on a sidewalk.

    s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

    (1) No person shall drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk ….

    (3) This section does not apply to motorized wheelchairs.

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