Pedelec Law - The Details

Dewey

Pedelecer
Sep 12, 2016
102
41
47
Arlington, VA
These 8 states permit 1000 watts:
Maryland

These 4 states have minimum age limits at or above the UK's 14 years to ride an ebike:
Virginia.

Virginia requires compliance with motor vehicle laws when on road.
Some top sleuthing there Flecc, it is confusing here in the US. Some changes recently, I can only speak to our local situation in Virginia, Maryland & Washington, DC, in the past year both Maryland and Virginia adopted the 3-class model ebike legislation so both now permit 750w maximum, Virginia's age 14 restriction now only applies to Class 3 speed pedelecs, and the default is now Class 1 & 2 ebikes may ride on streets or paved shared-use paths where pedal bicycles are permitted unless otherwise restricted by local ordinance. The main problem for ebike riders now is the 2 states plus DC follow the Contributory Negligence liability standard in bicycle/car collisions, which is deeply unfair and allows drivers insurers to avoid paying out for injuries to vulnerable ebike riders.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,342
27,043
Some top sleuthing there Flecc, it is confusing here in the US. Some changes recently, I can only speak to our local situation in Virginia, Maryland & Washington, DC, in the past year both Maryland and Virginia adopted the 3-class model ebike legislation so both now permit 750w maximum, Virginia's age 14 restriction now only applies to Class 3 speed pedelecs, and the default is now Class 1 & 2 ebikes may ride on streets or paved shared-use paths where pedal bicycles are permitted unless otherwise restricted by local ordinance. The main problem for ebike riders now is the 2 states plus DC follow the Contributory Negligence liability standard in bicycle/car collisions, which is deeply unfair and allows drivers insurers to avoid paying out for injuries to vulnerable ebike riders.
Many thanks for this latest information Dewey, I'll use it to update my file on this subject.

The diversity in ebike law in the USA certainly is confusing. Riders here in Europe sometimes complain about our restrictive assist speed limit, but at least we have one easy to know standard law covering almost all our continent and well beyond in some cases. And in Britain we have the blessing that our police don't even bother to enforce it so large numbers do as they please. Kit bikes with750 watts or more and assist to 30 mph is no problem so long as their riders act sensibly and don't kill or seriously injure anyone.

I'm sorry to learn of that unfair Contributory Negligence liability standard in bicycle/car collisions. In some places in Europe we have the opposite, strict liability meaning it's assumed that the motor vehicle driver is automatically at fault. That is certainly far more likely to be fair.
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AndyBike

Pedelecer
Nov 8, 2020
185
88
I reckon as time advances and more and more opt to go electric, and accidents increase,the law will adapt and we'll be subject to more stringent checks, possibly licenses and without a doubt taxation.
 

GSV3MiaC

Pedelecer
Jun 6, 2020
188
118
Quite probably, but then anything which can kill, or seriously injure, an innocent 3rd party, and which happens a lot, probably does need some sort of regulation. Insurance at the very least, IMO.
 

TedG

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 8, 2017
448
483
71
Lisburn Co Antrim Northern Ireland UK
Quite probably, but then anything which can kill, or seriously injure, an innocent 3rd party, and which happens a lot, probably does need some sort of regulation. Insurance at the very least, IMO.
Got insurance because that was perhaps the main reason we put our bikes away during the Stormont "moped" fiasco.
Back out on the roads and towpaths now and feeling a lot more comfortable with insurance cover.
 
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Andy-Mat

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 26, 2018
1,851
457
75
I reckon as time advances and more and more opt to go electric, and accidents increase,the law will adapt and we'll be subject to more stringent checks, possibly licenses and without a doubt taxation.
They should always, even now, be stringent. But what might make more sense for all, is insurance. One covering all third party risks and injuries, plus "Fire and theft".....as a minimum.
Andy
 
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Andy-Mat

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 26, 2018
1,851
457
75
They should always, even now, be stringent. But what might make more sense for all, is insurance. One covering all third party risks and injuries, plus "Fire and theft".....as a minimum.
Andy
I am sure none of us want to be riding our bikes in company with unlicensed car drivers, without insurance cover, with cars in dire need of an MOT and the good braking and handling that brings with it, as we could become a victim of such thoughtless drivers, as could our families.
We do anyway in the UK, if I believe police statistics, who are always working to reduce the incidence of such vehicles and their drivers. But it's certainly nothing we want to see as bike owners I feel.
As I said before, in my own personal thoughts, insurance is my most important point. The damage that bikes do to the road surface is tiny, in comparison to cars and lorries, so I personally feel that road tax should NOT be applied to bikes of any kind, which may encourage more road users to get on their bikes, rather than to sit in a car!
MOT for bikes sounds to me a bit stupid and overdone, as anyone riding a bike with less than good brakes or steering, is basically on a suicide mission anyway, with less brains than an earthworm! But I bet there are such people on the roads everywhere, sadly!
Poor or non existent lighting and missing warning bells, on bikes owned by people missing the brain to know how and when to use them, is another matter that I feel should be covered by on the spot fines, hard enough to promote bike users into having them.
Bikes on the road even in daytime, particularly people under 18, could be stopped by the police and have their bikes checked for good lighting, brakes and warning bells.
I myself would have no problems with that, except sadly, the police usually have enough to do already.....
Wishing everyone here a safe day, with no COVID or bike accidents.
Andy
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,342
27,043
Bikes on the road even in daytime, particularly people under 18, could be stopped by the police and have their bikes checked for good lighting, brakes and warning bells.
I'm afraid the police cannot do any enforcement in respect of bicycle bells Andy.

Originally there had never been a law requiring bells on bicycles, but in 1999 legislation was passed requiring all new bicycles to be sold with bells, but with no requirement for the bell to be fitted or compulsion for a cyclist to use them. The Highway Code rule 66 merely suggests the use of one. Therefore from then on a bicycle seller only needed to hand a loose bell to a buyer of a bicycle to comply with the law.

If you see that as ridiculous as I'm sure we all do, it gets worse.

In 2011 a "Red Tape Challenge" was mounted (one against useless laws) and the 1999 legislation was cancelled, so there's now no law on having a bell or any warning device on a bicycle.
.
 
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vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
9,822
3,938
Basildon
I reckon as time advances and more and more opt to go electric, and accidents increase,the law will adapt and we'll be subject to more stringent checks, possibly licenses and without a doubt taxation.
When I first joined the forum 10 years ago, people were saying the same thing, in particular with reference to all the guys riding round on unrestricted bikes. Nothing has changed yet. It was rumoured, though I'm pretty sure that it's true, that our friend Colin from KTM even wrote to all the bike magazines trying to stir up support to get more stringent laws and regulations.
 

MontyPAS

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 16, 2020
375
148
Think about it realistically.
Insurance would require licensing of bicycle by number plate and VIN plate system.
Licensing would be followed by road worthy testing? All this would eventually do away with our beloved DIY ebikes. As only the likes of ready made, mass produced, limited / restricted, Shimano / Bosch engine pedelecs would the only bikes you could insure.

Just try and get a custom made motorbike on the road, and you wont want to go down the insurance route.
Cycling is for everyone, be it human powered or Pedelec.

I do not agree with any cycling insurance..... Full stop
 

Andy-Mat

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 26, 2018
1,851
457
75
I'm afraid the police cannot do any enforcement in respect of bicycle bells Andy.

Originally there had never been a law requiring bells on bicycles, but in 1999 legislation was passed requiring all new bicycles to be sold with bells, but with no requirement for the bell to be fitted or compulsion for a cyclist to use them. The Highway Code rule 66 merely suggests the use of one. Therefore from then on a bicycle seller only needed to hand a loose bell to a buyer of a bicycle to comply with the law.

If you see that as ridiculous as I'm sure we all do, it gets worse.

In 2011 a "Red Tape Challenge" was mounted (one against useless laws) and the 1999 legislation was cancelled, so there's now no law on having a bell or any warning device on a bicycle.
.
Here its in the law that all bikes must have a bell of a particular "loudness", to be fitted to every bike, or the bike may only be ridden on fenced off, private roads.
I thought it was also EU law, maybe its not!
Sad. I wonder which idiotic politicians got rid of that?
Andy
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,616
5,672
58
West Sx RH
UK law is strange, once upon a time it used to be law that a bell must be fitted or supplied at point of sale but there is no legal requirement to do so now. !!!
Apart from that two forms of working brakes must be in use one rear and front reflector, 4 pedals reflectors and lights between sunset and dawn. 80% of bikes I see being ridden have no lights in the dark.
 
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MontyPAS

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 16, 2020
375
148
Here its in the law that all bikes must have a bell of a particular "loudness", to be fitted to every bike, or the bike may only be ridden on fenced off, private roads.
I thought it was also EU law, maybe its not!
Sad. I wonder which idiotic politicians got rid of that?
Andy
Probably because the general take no notice of a poxy little bike bell and car drivers can't hear them. Rendering them pointless.
Euro rules at their best eh
 

esuark

Pedelecer
Jul 23, 2019
26
4
kent
took my bell off and now just shout "ding ding" or shout a warning to horse riders that I am approaching which seems goes down well with a lot of people, and a smile for me the simple soul no doubt.......
 
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sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
2,736
2,124
took my bell off and now just shout "ding ding" or shout a warning to horse riders that I am approaching which seems goes down well with a lot of people, and a smile for me the simple soul no doubt.......
I have a bell (two on the tandem with very different rings). I still often resort to shouted ding-ding when I need it urgently; quicker than ringing the bell. Usually voice for horse riders. Most people are happy -- I did get a 'you should have a bell' the other day from someone.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,342
27,043
Probably because the general take no notice of a poxy little bike bell and car drivers can't hear them. Rendering them pointless.
Euro rules at their best eh
Having a bell is not an EU cycling rule, if it was it would have applied here too. Having one and using it is regarded as a courtesy and is expected in the main cycling countries of the EU.

However they are indeed useless in many ways, not least in that they do not protect against the full force of the law being applied, nor does giving any warning of approach. In the UK the law is one of strict liability, the user of any form of vehicle has an absolute duty to avoid collision with person or property, regardless of circumstances.

We saw that in the case of cyclist Charlie Alliston not long ago. He shouted a clear warning to a woman pedestrian when she walked into his path which she heard but stepped the wrong way and was killed when his bike hit her. The judge in his case strongly criticised him for expecting her to get out of the way since he did not have the right to expect that, so he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for Wanton and Furious Driving.

That the duty to avoid collision is an absolute for all vehicle users was again illustrated in the case of 38 year old mother of two Victoria McClure. Driving on the A4 she was distracted by her SatNav and in looking away from the road hit and killed father of two cyclist 46 year old Tony Hilson. At Reading Crown Court she also received an 18 months custodial sentence, showing the law is even handed at least.

But the important lesson in these cases for all of us who cycle or drive is that any sort of warning to another person in our path does not absolve us in any way from our duty and liability under law to be able to stop in time.
.
 
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vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
9,822
3,938
Basildon
Having a bell is not an EU cycling rule,
But the important lesson in these cases for all of us who cycle or drive is that any sort of warning to another person in our path does not absolve us in any way from our duty and liability under law to be able to stop in time.
Sure as eggs are eggs, they'll hold it against you if you don't have a bell and you run into a pedestrian.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,342
27,043
Sure as eggs are eggs, they'll hold it against you if you don't have a bell and you run into a pedestrian.
A prosecuting barrister might attempt that, but no judge will mention it in sentencing, since to do so would be contrary to law. Sounding a warning of approach is only ever a courtesy measure. In fact it's punishable in some circumstances if inapropriately used.
.
 
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Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,616
5,672
58
West Sx RH
As with guy who originally had the 100K law suited against him partly quashed, the judge mentioned he would have been better braking then sounding a warning. Implying that in the time he took to do so would have been better used to slow down.
 
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