Can You Ride an Electric Bike on the Sidewalk?

Published on February 4, 2023

Electric bikes are a fun, smart, and efficient way to get around, and it’s hardly surprising their popularity continues to grow as they offer the chance to zip around town and beyond. After seeing the benefits of being assisted with an electric motor, many people have chosen an electric e-bike in 2022 as their chosen mode of transport. How much it costs to charge an e-bike is very low, as well, and it’s for reasons like these that they are being adopted by more and more users. 

If you live in a city, however, you may be wondering if e-bikes can go on the sidewalk. In this article, we’ve created a comprehensive answer to this not-so-straightforward question.

Laws by State 

Electric bikes are usually regulated differently than traditional bicycles. Each state has its own regulations regarding electric bikes and whether they can be ridden on sidewalks. Generally speaking, most states allow electric bikes to be ridden on sidewalks, as long as they are traveling under twenty MPH and meet certain safety guidelines. Many states also require riders to wear a helmet while riding an electric bike, regardless of where they’re riding it. 

However, these rules are not the same everywhere. States like California, New York, and Washington have clear laws in place that prohibit riding e-bikes on sidewalks. In these states, electric bike riders must stay on designated bike paths or roads and can only ride on sidewalks if it’s necessary to avoid traffic. 

Risks Associated With Riding an E-Bike on the Sidewalk

Though it is legal in most states, there are still risks associated with riding an electric bike on the sidewalk. Electric bikes can reach speeds of twenty-eight MPH, which can make it difficult for pedestrians to get out of the way in an unlikely, but not impossible, collision situation. 

Furthermore, the noise from an e-bike can startle a pedestrian, leading them to react unexpectedly, which can lead to accidents. While riding your e-bike on the sidewalk might be appealing, be sure to always consider the dangers to yourself and others.

Where Can You Ride Your Electric Bike?

If you want to ride your electric bike without running into potential legal issues or putting yourself or others at risk, try sticking to low-traffic areas like residential streets and parks that have designated trails for cycling. This will give you plenty of room to ride safely while allowing drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists time to see you coming. 

Many cities also have dedicated cycling lanes that allow cyclists and pedestrians alike to share the roads safely. Check with your local government if this is available in your area.

In Summary

Electric bikes are safe and are a wonderful mode of transport, and there are many places you can use them comfortably and respectfully. While there are not always restrictions to riding your e-bike on the sidewalk, we recommend thinking about any risks to yourself and others. If you choose to ride on the sidewalk, we suggest getting to know available routes so you can make an informed decision about where it’s safest to ride your e-bike.