Bicycles with Gas Assist Motors

Question

GM asked the FHP: Can a bicycle with a gas assist motor be operated legally on Florida roadways?

Answer

NO!

The Florida Highway Patrol has definitively stated that a bicycle with a gas assist motor cannot be legally operated on the roadway.

Below is the email string that resulted in that answer.  Read from the bottom up.

George,

That is correct.

Customer Service Center

Correspondence/Email Unit

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

www.flhsmv.gov

—–Original Message—–

From: [mailto:flbikelaw@gmail.com]

Sent: Friday, March 07, 2014 4:33 PM

To: FHP

Subject: Re: Question about the laws

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your timely response.

Can I then deduce that a bicycle equipped with a gas-assist motor which cannot be registered as a moped or motorcycle cannot legally be operated on the roadway?

Thank you,

On Mar 7, 2014, at 4:17 PM, FHP wrote:

Dear George,

Thanks for your inquiry. Please see 320.01(28) below for your answer.

Motorized Bicycles

F.S.S. 322.03(1) requires: “Except as otherwise authorized in this

chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in

this state unless such person has a valid driver’s license issued

under this chapter.”

F.S.S. 322.01(27) defines a Motor Vehicle as: “any self‐propelled

vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon

rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power,

motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.”

F.S.S. 316.003 defines a Motorized Bicycle as: “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, having two

tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a

bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels.”

F.S.S. 320.01(28) defines a Moped as: “any vehicle with pedals to

permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use

of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels,

with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable

of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on

level ground, and with a power‐drive system that functions directly or

automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator

after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is

used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.”

F.S.S. 320.0803 requires Mopeds to be registered and display a moped

license plate.

Customer Service Center

Correspondence/Email Unit

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles www.flhsmv.gov

—–Original Message—–

From: [mailto:flbikelaw@gmail.com]

Sent: Friday, March 07, 2014 2:35 PM

To: FHP

Subject: Question about the laws

Dear Sir/Madam,

Is it legal to operate a bicycle under the power of a gas assist motor in Florida?

The statute that defines a bicycle includes an electric assist motor and therefore does not require a driver’s license, registration or title.

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,

There is no mention of bicycles with gas assist motors in the statutes, but they are included under the definition of motor vehicle.  The DHSMV states they cannot be registered and are not mopeds or motorcycles.

If bicycles with gas assist motors can be legally operated on the roadways, please advise of the statutory authority.

Thank you

Posted in Ask Geo, Motorized Bicycles Tagged with: , , ,
18 comments on “Bicycles with Gas Assist Motors
  1. Duty says:

    George,

    Can you give us the email address that you sent that question to?
    You only have FHP as a marker…

    I have a couple other questions for them and would appreciate the email address that you sent to…

    Thanks

  2. James(StreightCheez) says:

    Geo.
    So What Your Saying Is: “We Can Not Operate Our 49cc 2&1 Gas Motor On Our: Schwin-’StringRay’OrangeCountyChooperBike’z
    On The Road In The Bike Lane.
    If There Is No Statue For It, what Is The Violation?
    If We All Are Riding Safely And Obeying “All” DHSMV :”Rules,Laws,Bi-Laws,StateLaws,Fed.Law & We All Wear Helmets.
    What Is The Violation
    Can A:…”Police Officer,CountySheriff And Or A StateTrooper”
    Stop Me?
    If Yes: Please Send The Violation Of The Law
    As Defined & Being: Bicycle (With Or With) W/Wo.
    A Gas Assist Motor.
    Please Send Florida Statue “That Prohibit s Us Do Enjoy This PassTyme”

    • Geo says:

      Yes, a police officer can stop you and cite you for breaking the law. You are operating an unregistered vehicle. All motorized vehicles must be registered unless specifically excluded by the statute. A bicycle with an electric assist motor is specifically excluded from the registration requirement by the statute defining a bicycle.
      s. 320.02 – Registration Required; Application for Registration; forms
      (1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle that is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle in this state.

  3. randy says:

    I operate my two stroke gas assist bicycle in archer & Gainesville areas & no officer of the law gives me any lip nor pulls me over to give me a ticket. I ride my gas assist bicycle everywhere day & night, going to work & out shopping at the markets. I ride safely & wear my helmet at all times as well. I even wave at the officers when I pass by them to let them know that I am noticing them as well. When I rode into williston thou, it was a different story there. They gave me a verbal warning to not operate it there, but I still do & no problem from them yet.

  4. Don Kitzerow says:

    I was given a ticket for operating an unregistered motor vehicle last sept In sewels pt fl it was a mandatory court appearance I had to pa 275.00 in court costs and a 50.00 fine for a total of 325.00 I have been riding my motorized bicycle since 2007 with no problems until then this ridiculous whats the difference going 20mph on electric or gas

  5. Geo says:

    It may seem to each individual that there is no difference between gas and electric helper motors on bike, but there certainly is. This was in a previous post and shows the difference.

    I am informed that it was strenuously opposed by many agencies, including counties and municipalities for the following reasons.

    1. Most eBikes are commercially produced and are designed and constructed to strict safety and reliability standards, and can be manufactured with strict controls on the operational limits of 20 mph.

    2. Many gas-assist bikes are homemade from add-on kits, and have no uniform design, construction and production standards, and operational limits are difficult to control.

    3. Non-uniform gas motor assist bikes present law enforcement with problems, including potential speed and safety. On this site, we have heard of many cases of law enforcement declaring them illegal for use on the roads.

    • Don says:

      If the electric bike goes 20 miles an hour and the gaspipe goes 20 miles an hour what’s the difference

    • Dave says:

      “we have heard of many cases of law enforcement declaring them illegal for use on the roads.”

      Law enforcement do not have the authority to “declare” anything legal or illegal. That is for the state assembly to do. Just because the police in a jurisdiction are saying that it’s illegal does not make it so.

      In this case, it is dubious that the government can declare that we haven’t made it legal to do so, therefore it’s illegal.

      It works the other way around. Unless they pass a law specifically outlawing a vehicle, they can’t just say it’s illegal. And again it’s not the police’s job to create law by enforcement practices. It is their sole job to enforce current law that is interpreted by competent lawyers.

  6. Geo says:

    Bicycles with gas motors as helper motors are not legal. That’s the difference. If you disagree, contact your legislators who wrote the laws.

  7. David Harris says:

    a bicycle with a gas motor is illegal it’s just a non vehicle because it don’t have the safety features such as frame assembly and vin numbers to make it a vehicle they can only give a citation not criminal charges

    • Don says:

      It’s legal now if you get the saftey equipment rs -68

    • Geo says:

      David,

      It would not only be a vehicle, it would be a motor vehicle according to traffic statutes.

      s. 316.003 – Definitions
      (75) Vehicle – Every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
      (21) Motor Vehicle – …. a self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, swamp buggy, or moped.

      It would not be a legal motor vehicle if it couldn’t be registered or meet the definition of bicycle. There are also other types of vehicles that are legal vehicles since they are human powered and not required to be registered.

      For the purpose of registration the following definition applies:

      s. 320.01 – Definitions, General
      (1) “Motor vehicle” means:
      (a) An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.

      I think you are right about it being a non-criminal offense, but that isn’t within the scope of ts site.

      • David Harris says:

        ok I read it one more time andreally slow this time Motor vehicle any self propelled but not including ANY bicycle swamp buggy and bla,bla,bla…..it’s not legal to drive on bike paths or sidewalks.point bring it’s not a vehicle as set by FL statue
        thanks for double teaming me it’s just proves my point
        and thank you for your support

  8. Kenny says:

    What does the term “2 brake horesepower” mean?

  9. Geo says:

    Kenny,

    From Webster’s:

    Brake horsepower – The horsepower made available by an engine or turbine for driving machinery other than itself, as measured by a dynamometer.

    Horsepower – Foot-pound-second unit of power, equivalent to 550 foot-power per second, 745.7 watts.

    From the statute related to registration of motor vehicles:

    s. 320.01 – Definitions, General.
    (17) “Brake horsepower” means the actual unit of torque developed per unit of time at the output shaft of an engine, as measured by a dynamometer.

  10. Geo says:

    Dave,
    You are correct that it is the job of the legislators and not the police to declare what is a legal vehicle and what is not.
    The legislators have done just that. All motor vehicles, as defined in the statutes and with the exceptions noted in the statutes, must be registered and the operator must have a drivers license.
    When law enforcement officials say they have determined that a certain vehicle is not a legal vehicle for use on the roads, they are simply saying they have read the statutes which say that.
    See the many posts on the subject on this site.

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