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What Are Motorized Bicycles in NYC?

Is a motorized bicycle treated like a bicycle, or a motorcycle? At Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP, we handle both types of accidents, and we can tell you: motor-assisted bikes are in a space of their own—and have limited area to roam in New York State. They’re more powerful than foot-pedaled bikes, and not nearly as powerful as Harleys or Yamahas. But if you get into a crash while riding one, the injuries could be just as severe.

We recommend speaking to a bicycle accident attorney at our firm if you were hit by someone else while on your vehicle. Though New York has restrictions on motorized bicycles, that is no excuse for another driver’s negligence, and you can still recover compensation through the legal theory of comparative negligence. Talk to us in a free consultation to see if you have a strong claim!

 

What Is a Bicycle?

New York’s Department of Transportation defines a bicycle as: “Every two- or three-wheeled device upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, a chain, or gears, with such wheels in a tandem or tricycle, except that it shall not include such a device having solid tires and intended for use only on a sidewalk by pre-teenage children.”

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic rules of the road that car drivers do, but there are some exceptions and special rules to protect them. The State only requires bicyclists 14 and under to wear helmets, but certain counties have passed ordinances requiring everyone in their jurisdiction to wear helmets. Bicyclists are usually not allowed to ride on sidewalks, unless they are very young children with parents’ supervision.

 

What Is a Motorized Bicycle?

Meanwhile, a “motor-assisted bicycle” is a bicycle to which a small motor is attached. It doesn’t qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, moped, or ATV, and doesn’t have the same equipment. You can’t register or operate a motor-assisted bicycle on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or area in New York State that allows public motor vehicle traffic. To do is to risk arrest and a fine!

Motorized bicycles are basically illegal in New York City.

 

What About E-Bikes?

The same rules that apply to motor-assisted bicycles used to apply to electric bicycles: by law, they could not be registered or operated on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk, or other area open to motor vehicle traffic, or risk a $500 fine! In April 2018, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that electric-assist bicycles would be allowed to travel the streets of NYC, though any e-bike that goes over 20 mph and hoverboards remain off-limits to date.

This is a good thing, because at the time the ban was lifted, over 60% of NYC’s 50,000+ delivery cyclists rode e-bikes regardless! That number is expected to grow, and tourists and locals in New York City will be joining in. The laws for e-bikes, e-scooters, and motorized bicycles are changing rapidly, and we are here to help if you or a loved one is ever hurt.

Call 212-203-4795 to speak with an experienced NYC bicycle accident lawyer about your potential case. Your consultation is free.

 

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