Can I even use a ebike in NY state?

dc9mm

New Member
I found the thread about different state rules and regs but am still at a loss if there legal or not. or maybe a better question what are the chances with a problem. Iam in the Buffalo NY suburb area.

So any NY state ebike riders out there? What has been your experience with police? Can you ride bike paths. The police regularly ride bikes on patrol on the bike paths I go on. What should I expect?

It looks like the letter of the law is confused. BUT whats the reality of ebike use in NY state NOT NYC as i have never been there and never plan to go?
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
I do wish the legislature would get their act together and officially legalize these things along the lines that so many states have. There's lots of tax money to be made by the state if sales take off, and the state is doing a great job on expanding the bike infrastructure. Albany has some really nice brand new bike lanes downtown.

I rode about 1300 miles last fall mostly around the Albany/Saratoga County region with several excursions up into the Adirondack high peaks and out along the Erie Canal bikeway (have completed a third of it, going to finish all the way to Buffalo this spring). All on a reasonably stealthy mountain style bike, just out enjoying it with everyone else, not blasting by people and being an idiot. Split about 50/50 between roads and bike paths.

Have yet to encounter any open hostility, and in fact made a couple of riding friends with some pretty serious road bike guys around Schenectady. But I still wish it was completely OK, and there are a couple trails where out of a sense of fairness I don't even turn the thing on, just ride it like a very heavy bike. Seems ridiculous.

I was a road bike guy for a long time, did lots of distance riding over the years. Age, knee and now heart troubles pushed me onto the ebike, and I thank God they exist, because otherwise I would no longer be out here enjoying this at all. But I'm out out there doing my fifty miles and not bothering anyone, and I'm not using a throttle to do it, either.

My wife has a Pedego so we can ride together occasionally as well. She is afraid to ride on the roads, so with her it's the trails along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, or over along the Ashawilticook trail in similarly legally challenged Massachusetts next door.

And we've met plenty of other ebikes out there as well, lots of ages and types, though mostly skewed somewhat older like ourselves.

Oh yeah, almost forgot... I was a cop here for almost thirty years and I would have been very reluctant to harass someone just out trying to enjoy themselves. To be fair, I understand the problem NYC has with aggressive delivery people scaring the hell out of everyone on the sidewalks in some areas, but that can be dealt with as a local matter under NYC law. To burden some poor bastard who just wants to ride the great Warren County Bikeway to Lake George on a beautiful day because of those guys is absurd.
 
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Al P

Active Member
I would agree with Dave. My wife and I have ridden in some of the same places as he has in upstate NY and especially in the Adirondacks. Just let common sense prevail. If you act stupid you will aggravate people who may then call the police. The police are not out to get ebike riders, (except for maybe the messengers in NYC :p).
We ride the trails and have never seen a police officer on one. There is no need for them to be there. Be respectful of hikers, joggers and especially dog walkers and you'll be fine. On public roads, stay over to the right or use bike lanes, if available. Follow the same rules that apply to vehicles and from our experience, no one will bother you.
 

dc9mm

New Member
Thanks for the replies. My one concern is there is a bike path near me that I will use occasionally that has police patrol on bikes. I see them often when walking the path. I haven't done much riding with my regular bike as my knee is not in great shape. I thought an ebike would allow me to go biking again. Iam going to call a local bike store that sell ebikes and see what they have to say.

Now I just have to decide what bike to buy. Iam leaning toward the RadCity right now.
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
If you really want to know as to that specific area, I'd just grab one of the bike cops and talk with him or her. Otherwise, just smile and wave at em when you go by. I really doubt they give a damn if they're like anyone I ever worked with.
 

Trail Cruiser

Well-Known Member
Policemen at bike paths care more on significant violators like skateboards, motorcycles, ATV's, gangs of bullies. If you ride the same manner (not speeding) as other non-ebikers and observe traffic rules, I don't think they care or I don't think they would even notice. Keep a low profile and avoid unwanted attention, that's what I have been doing.
 
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dc9mm

New Member
I talked to a local ebike seller. he even rents ebikes to local police which is right across the street from his store. Says there isn't a problem with them around her. It looks like most of the trouble is NY City. Not a surprise there. This now seems like I can get one. Plus there is a bill working its way through NY state to make it a law for it to be ok for under 20 mph bikes at least. Who knows maybe are crazy governor will do the right thing.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
I talked to a local ebike seller. he even rents ebikes to local police which is right across the street from his store. Says there isn't a problem with them around her. It looks like most of the trouble is NY City. Not a surprise there. This now seems like I can get one. Plus there is a bill working its way through NY state to make it a law for it to be ok for under 20 mph bikes at least. Who knows maybe are crazy governor will do the right thing.

I wish I could calmly ride on the Chicago bike paths that keep getting upgrades, plus are passing through some beautiful areas. The muni-code clearly stipulates that you can receive anywhere from a $75 dollar fine up to $500 dollars for any power assisted vehicle. I have not heard of anyone receiving a violation, however, I yet to see anyone with an ebike on any of our forest preserve district trails. Seems most ebikers stick to roadside paths only to ensure no violations can be had.
If any ebikers from Chicago see this thread, please chime in and let us know your experience with local authorities. Thanks in advance!:cool:
 

JohnT

Active Member
Last I heard, the bike advocacy groups that got California's regulations straightened out had set their sites on doing the same for NY state next. I'm not sure how it's going. The goal is to do the same for all states.
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
Boy, I hope so! I've got some miles to put on this year. I'm doing them anyhow, but it would be nice to not have to think about it.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
Boy, I hope so! I've got some miles to put on this year. I'm doing them anyhow, but it would be nice to not have to think about it.

You've got that right Dave! So far it is really difficult to know if the officials will enforce the law or not! I see Huntington Beach CA has a huge influx of ebikers riding on their beautiful bike paths/trails all over the area. The ebike sales in CA have really taken off in the last couple of years. Time to relocate for a well spent pastime. LOL ;)
 

ROCebike

Member
Hi @dc9mm. Good advice from everyone and don't hold your breath on NYS resolving this soon. In fact I am meeting with my local politicians on this issue. I've never lobbied before, but if NYC can get Uber and prevent availability in upstate cites, then perhaps for ebikes we allow them and they continue their ban. As I've learned nothing is straightforward in Albany.

We could use any support on the two bills, S2888 and A1018. It's surprisingly easy to set up an appointment with local Assemblyman and Senators. These bills are written to define ebikes as Bicycles, the same as the Fed's do in CPSC. Please ask your guys to co-sponsor and resist NYC driving upstate policy.

As for bikes, you do have a Pedego store in Orchard Park. you'll get great support from them and perhaps more cooperation from the cops. It hurts local business in the town if the cops hassle you when calmly riding the trails.

If it helps, the NYBC was looking for an ebike owner with a ticket to challenge the regulations in court. A friendly judge who could set a precedent for ebike definitions would go a long way to force Albany to deal with the lack of clarity. Are you this daring?

At a minimum, I'd still ask you to write to your politician. There's just so many good things about ebikes, it's petty to not be supportive.
 

Goosewiththefur

New Member
I wish I could calmly ride on the Chicago bike paths that keep getting upgrades, plus are passing through some beautiful areas. The muni-code clearly stipulates that you can receive anywhere from a $75 dollar fine up to $500 dollars for any power assisted vehicle. I have not heard of anyone receiving a violation, however, I yet to see anyone with an ebike on any of our forest preserve district trails. Seems most ebikers stick to roadside paths only to ensure no violations can be had.
If any ebikers from Chicago see this thread, please chime in and let us know your experience with local authorities. Thanks in advance!:cool:

Chicago e-biker here! I ride on the forest preserve paths (north branch trail, lakefront path, north shore channel trail) all the time and have NEVER even been questioned by anyone. I'm usually riding with my dog in tow in a trailer. Every cop i've seen just smiles as we pass, or asks to say hi to the dog. We've ridden to Blackwell Forest Preserve near Wheaton, to Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, and all the way to Kenosha without a single issue. I think as long as you're not being a jerk and you don't bring harm to others, the cops don't care. We even road through Chicago Botanic Gardens and stopped to fill our water bottles with the dog (not allowed) and no one, including security, said anything. We got lots of smiles and waves though :)
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
Chicago e-biker here! I ride on the forest preserve paths (north branch trail, lakefront path, north shore channel trail) all the time and have NEVER even been questioned by anyone. I'm usually riding with my dog in tow in a trailer. Every cop i've seen just smiles as we pass, or asks to say hi to the dog. We've ridden to Blackwell Forest Preserve near Wheaton, to Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, and all the way to Kenosha without a single issue. I think as long as you're not being a jerk and you don't bring harm to others, the cops don't care. We even road through Chicago Botanic Gardens and stopped to fill our water bottles with the dog (not allowed) and no one, including security, said anything. We got lots of smiles and waves though :)

That is great news Goose! I am with you on the smiles received throughout my Chicago trail ebike riding experience this past season. More inquisitive than anything else. Being that ebikes are not so popular here yet, perhaps we can act as reps and a rider when asked a bunch of questions. Great to get the word out to other fellow riders. I have been on most of the trials you have mentioned, and not one problem. I ride an EM Jet, so the bike is advertised as "the ebike that does not look like one", so everything is more integrated into the frame and downtube. At a glance, looks like a regular bike. I went with that model, not knowing if I would be confronted by enforcement or not. Working out great so far. I also enjoy the Green Bay Trail that starts at Wilmette Ave to Lake Cook Rd, then you can swing over to the NBT in Turnbull Woods and head back. Nice cruise indeed! Thanks for the heads up in your post! Ride Safe.:)
 

Leandro

Member
I found the thread about different state rules and regs but am still at a loss if there legal or not. or maybe a better question what are the chances with a problem. Iam in the Buffalo NY suburb area.

So any NY state ebike riders out there? What has been your experience with police? Can you ride bike paths. The police regularly ride bikes on patrol on the bike paths I go on. What should I expect?

It looks like the letter of the law is confused. BUT whats the reality of ebike use in NY state NOT NYC as i have never been there and never plan to go?
This thread here may help shed some light on the current NY legislation.