New York finally legalizes e-bikes and e-scooters statewide

The state’s tentative budget agreement includes a win for delivery workers.

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A delivery person rides his bike in Brooklyn, New York on March 17, 2020. - Food delivery workers have become essential in New York after the city closed restaurants and bars to the public on March 16th, 2020. They are taking extreme precautions not to get sick, but most of them are immigrants with no papers and no health insurance. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images

Electric bikes and scooters are finally legal in New York. The state’s tentative budget agreement for fiscal year 2020 includes language that authorizes pedal-assist bikes, throttle-powered bikes and electric scooters. This change has been years in the making, and proponents say it’s a win for delivery workers, who have been advocating for the use of e-bikes for nearly a decade.

The changes added to the budget agreement are similar to legislation that New York lawmakers voted on last summer. While that passed through the state Senate and Assembly with little opposition, Governor Cuomo vetoed the bill due to a lack of safety measures — it did not include helmet requirements. The new provisions require helmets for 16- and 17-year-olds who ride e-scooters or e-bikes and for anyone who rides an e-bike that maxes out at 25 mph.

The budget agreement creates three classes of e-bikes: pedal-assist bikes that max out at 20 miles per hours, throttle-powered bikes that max out at 20 mph and throttled-powered bikes that max out at 25 miles per hour in cities of one million people or more. All classes, as well as e-scooters that max out at 15 miles per hour, are now legalized statewide. Though, municipalities can still apply additional regulations. For instance, scooter share programs are not permitted in Manhattan, so don’t expect to see Bird, Lime or Jump scooters there anytime soon.

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