Electric Motorized Bike

Jan commented on this post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/02/bicycle-licenses/#comments

“You can ride on side of right side of road and, only on sidewalks when NOT using motor. And you do need a bicycle registration! No license is needed. It goes under a Federal Law! I also have an elec. scooter…  Note, it is NOT a Moped if propels under 20 miles an hr. I was pulled over this past Thursday in Port Orange and handed a Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide booklet and told my ride was a Moped. After searching the manufactures website I found info we need.   My scooter is a Voltage 500GT that I purchased from Daytona Hawk.

Your bicycle speed must be under 20 MPH when propelled. I have an electric scooter which only runs at 20 MPH or under and I was informed by the Police dept in Port Orange that I needed a license and registration.   I found out that Fed. Law over-rules State Law and I am not required to reg. nor need a license. It is considered an Electric bicycle and NOT a moped.  My electric scooter is made by Voltage Electric Vehicle corp.   If you need help proving your elec. bike fits that description please see their website and click on ” LAW ” You do need a Bicycle reg. though….”

Answer

Since this covers a number of possible vehicles and there is a question about the applicable laws, we will treat this as a new post. The vehicle mentioned seems to meet the requirements to be a “bicycle” under the state definition, which is not more restrictive than the federal definition below.

A motorized bicycle that meets the definition of “bicycle” in the statutes need not be registered or titled, and the operator is not required to have a driver’s license.

s. 316.003Definitions

(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, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.

Confusing the issue is that at least two dealers selling the Voltage GT 500 mentioned above refer to s. 316.2068 on their websites. The most common brand is the Segway.  They can be used without a license or registration and can be used on sidewalks, bike paths and the roadway.  The Voltage GT 500 is not an EPAMD since it has tandem wheels and is not self-balancing.

s. 316.2068Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices; Regulations

(1) An electric personal assistive mobility device, as defined in s. 316.003, may be operated:

(a)On a road or street where the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less.

(b)On a marked bicycle path.

(c)On any street or road where bicycles are permitted.

(d)At an intersection, to cross a road or street even if the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour.

(e)On a sidewalk, if the person operating the device yields the right-of-way to pedestrians and gives an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

(2)A valid driver license is not a prerequisite to operating an electric personal assistive mobility device.

(3)Electric personal assistive mobility devices need not be registered and insured in accordance with s. 320.02.

(4)A person who is under the age of 16 years may not operate, ride, or otherwise be propelled on an electric personal assistive mobility device unless the person wears a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted, that is fastened securely upon his or her head by a strap, and that meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets which are adopted by the department.

(5)A county or municipality may regulate the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices on any road, street, sidewalk, or bicycle path under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that regulation is necessary in the interest of safety.

(6)The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices on any road under its jurisdiction if it determines that such a prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.

The statutory definition of an Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device is as follows:

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(83) Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device

Any self-balancing, two-nontandem-wheeled device, designed to transport only one person, with an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower), the maximum speed of which, on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a propulsion system while being ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are not vehicles as defined in this section.

The Voltage GT 500 is an electric bike that seems to meet the state definition above of “bicycle” and therefore has the same requirements as a bicycle. No driver’s license is required and the vehicle is not a motor vehicle and does not need to be registered with the state DMV.  It can be used wherever a bicycle can be used.

All bicycles resident in Daytona Beach must be registered with the city due to a local ordinance, but that is different from the state DMV registration as a type of vehicle.

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/02/bicycle-licenses/

One possible problem with federal requirements the Voltage GT500 might be that, according to one dealer I talked to the pedals are minimally functional. “It’s like riding a tricycle”, he said.

The Federal Law is similar to the state definition above of bicycle and supports the use of electric bikes. It requires “fully operable pedals”. I don’t know what that means and apparently it hasn’t been tested in the courts. The state definition of “bicycle” assumes pedals but does not mention them.

116 STAT. 2776 PUBLIC LAW 107–319—DEC. 4, 2002

Public Law 107–319

107th Congress

An Act

To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide that low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products subject to such Act.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY ACT.

The Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2051 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“LOWSPEED ELECTRIC BICYCLES

‘‘SEC. 38. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products within the meaning of section 3(a)(1) and shall be subject to the Commission regulations published at section 1500.18(a)(12) and part 1512 of title 16, Code of Federal Regulations.

‘‘(b) For the purpose of this section, the term ‘low-speed electric bicycle’ means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.

‘‘(c) To further protect the safety of consumers who ride low-speed electric bicycles, the Commission may promulgate new or amended requirements applicable to such vehicles as necessary and appropriate.

‘‘(d) This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements referred to in subsection (a).’’.

SEC. 2. MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS.

For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards issued and enforced pursuant to chapter 301 of title 49, United States Code, a low-speed electric bicycle (as defined in section 38(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act) shall not be considered a motor vehicle as defined by section 30102(6) of title 49, United States Code.

Approved December 4, 2002.

The Voltage GT 500 is not a motorized disability access vehicle since that requires gasoline motor power.

It also is not a moped, since it meets the state definition of “bicycle”.

Posted in Ask Geo, Motorized Bicycles
8 comments on “Electric Motorized Bike
  1. Specialx says:

    I love it when people start quoting federal laws.
    Jan is confused on thinking that the federal law has anything to do with bicycle registration and electric bicycle use with in each perspective state.
    The federal law that is quoted has to deal with sales of an electric bicycle throughout the entire country and has nothing to do with each states laws on electric bicycle use on their own roads.

    Each town may have its own ordinance in terms of registration of bicycles if you live with in that particular municipality.

    However, the state law concerning our electric bicycles is quite clear and it just happens to very closely resemble the federal law except for the fact that Florida law does not have a wattage limit.

    In my opinion, if an electric bicycle has pedals that allow it to move, no matter how slowly, that is what I and I would think any other reasonable person would consider operable.

    On that electric bicycle site that was mentioned they confuse the issue with calling them electric moped’s. Even though by definition they are electric bicycles.

  2. Specialx says:

    Let me throw in a couple of monkey wrenches…

    1.) Port Orange has no definition of a bicycle in their ordinances…

    2.) Volusia County (Port Orange is in this county).
    Has a bicycle definition that leaves out the electric bicycle part…
    Is that legal? Since there is already a state law definition that includes electric bicycles…

    3.) Daytona Beach (also in Volusia County), has this as their bicycle definition….
    ************************
    Bicycle means any device propelled by human power or any moped propelled by pedal-activated helper motor not to exceed 1½ bhp (break horse-power) upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, either of which is 20 inches or more in diameter, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels.
    *********************
    Which also doesn’t have the electric bicycle defined AND apparently allows mopeds to be defined as a bicycle…
    Is any of this legal?

  3. Geo says:

    Specialx,

    You stated: “I love it when people start quoting federal laws. Jan is confused on thinking that the federal law has anything to do with bicycle registration and electric bicycle use with in each perspective state.”

    It appears Jan is not the one who is confused.

    Federal law always trumps state or local laws and regulations. Here’s what the Cornell University Law School says about that.

    “Preemption
    When state law and federal law conflict, federal law displaces, or preempts, state law, due to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. U.S. Const. art. VI., § 2. Preemption applies regardless of whether the conflicting laws come from legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, or constitutions. For example, the Voting Rights Act, an act of Congress, preempts state constitutions, and FDA regulations may preempt state court judgments in cases involving prescription drugs.”

    Here’s an example involving traffic law.

    “The National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL) in the United States was a provision of the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour (89 km/h).”

    In this case, Florida’s definition of “motorized bicycle” is similar to the Federal definition, so there is no impact. However, if a state’s definition is more restrictive than the Federal definition, the Federal definition will prevail in court.

    For example, if a state defined a motor vehicle as any motorized vehicle capable of speeds over 10 mph, the Federal law would prevent conviction for a registration citation for the electric vehicle described.

    Local authorities can regulate bicycles, but their regulations cannot conflict with state laws.

    The registration referred to in local regulations is only a piece of paper recording the presence of the bicycle in that locality.

    Registration by the DMV is determined by the statutes regarding the type of vehicle that is allowed on the roads of the state.

    The different descriptions of bicycle in local definitions have nothing to do with the types of vehicles registered by the state DMV, and if a conflict arose in a court case, the state definition would prevail.

    The dealers’ sites confuse the issue by referring to them as electric mopeds and referring to the statute about “Segways”. I talked to one and it was clear he didn’t know anything about the laws. Blamed it on his IT people.

    Thanks to Jan for pointing out the Federal law. I was not aware of that. One of the purposes of this site is to empower readers to get involved and exchange useful information. Her comment did just that.

    • NE2 says:

      Actually, the NMSL did not override state laws. What it did was cancel any federal funding for states that did not reduce their speed limits.

  4. Specialx says:

    In conformance with legislation adopted by the U.S. Congress defining this category of electric-power bicycle (15 U.S.C. 2085(b)), CPSC rules stipulate that low speed electric bicycles[46] (to include two- and three-wheel vehicles) are exempt from classification as motor vehicles providing they have fully operable pedals, an electric motor of less than 750W (1 hp), and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) when operated by a rider weighing 170 pounds.
    An electric bike remaining within these specifications is subject to the CPSC consumer product regulations for a bicycle. Commercially manufactured e-bikes exceeding these power and speed limits are regulated by the federal DOT and NHTSA as motor vehicles, and must meet additional safety requirements. However, such requirements do not apply to e-bikes assembled from parts or kits by an individual.
    The use of e-bikes are instead governed by state and local laws, as federal law does not preempt state and local jurisdictions from enacting their own laws governing the operation of such vehicles on public streets and roadways.
    The legislation enacting this amendment to the CPSC is the text of HR 727 which includes the statement: “This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements.”
    (Note that this refers to consumer product regulations enacted under the Consumer Product Safety Act. Preemption of more stringent state consumer product regulations does not limit State authority to regulate the use of electric bicycles, or bicycles in general, under state vehicle codes.)

    • Specialx says:

      I’m sorry Geo, but Jan IS confused…
      The safety act is just that, in regards to sales of “ebikes” across the US..
      It is used for safety equipment concerning ebikes included in that specification and has NOTHING to do with State laws reguarding their USE on roads within their jurisdiction.

      Why do you think many states limit the usage of ebikes to persons with drivers licenses?
      (Alabama, Alaska, etc).

      Some states even preclude their usage totally..
      (New Jersey, etc)

      You may want to ask a lawyer that is well versed in Federal Consumer Product Regulations and ask his opinion on the matter.

      The attempt to use the HR 727 law as a run around of state’s laws concerning ebike usage has failed on every attempt in states where it was tried. (Double entandre).

      Also, you never answered #2 and #3 of my questions in my earlier post.

  5. NE2 says:

    The federal definition is explicitly “for purposes of motor vehicle safety standards” – in other words, quality standards for the manufacturers to follow. It does not apply to other areas such as what vehicles are allowed on the road.

    For example, in Citizens United the court ruled that, *for the purposes of election finance laws*, a corporation is a person. This does not mean that corporations may file taxes as a person, unless the tax code has the same definition of person.

  6. Geo says:

    Specialx said:
    “Also, you never answered #2 and #3 of my questions in my earlier post.”

    Sorry, but I missed that. It is different enough from the subject of this post that I made another post. Please see:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2014/10/local-ordinances-2/

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