The state of Georgia recognizes the emergence of developing vehicle technology and the significance of rules of the road to govern such modern trends. Electric bicycles are becoming more popular through the years. According to Dirk Sorenson from NPD, e-bike sales in the US have grown 139% from April 2020 to April 2021.
E-bikes have emerged as a new favorite for people who like to go on short trips, daily commutes, timely leisure, and exercises. Rental companies like Uber, Lyft, Lime, and Bird even have specific services for e-bike rentals through mobile apps. This is why e-bike laws are more relevant than ever. Regulations have to catch up.
What is an e-bike?
An electronic bike, or e-bike, is basically a bicycle that is integrated with an electronic system, composed of an electric motor, a battery, a sensor, and an electronic display. The motor can be activated through a pedal assist feature or a throttle , giving the rider a boost. An e-bike looks just like a regular bike and its parts function similarly, except for the electrical components.
Legal definition of e-bike
Georgia designs e-bikes as a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals, a fixed seat or saddle, and an electric motor that does not exceed 750 watts. E-bikes are classified into 3 categories:
Class 1 electric bicycle - equipped with an electric motor that is able to provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling, provided assistance ceases at the speed limit of 20 miles per hour
Class 2 electric bicycle - equipped with an electric motor that is able to provide assistance which exclusively propels the bicycle but is not capable of reaching a speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 3 electric bicycle - equipped with an electric motor that is able to provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling, provided assistance ceases at the speed limit of 28 miles per hour, equipped with a speedometer
Compared to the standard three-tier classification, there are some changes for class 2 e-bikes in Georgia. Usually, a class 2 e-bike has the same top assisted speed with a class 1, which is 20 miles per hour. In Georgia, a class 2 is not capable of reaching 20 miles per hour.
You can ride your e-bike on roads and highways that permit the use of bicycles. Generally, e-bikes are treated the same way as regular bicycles when it comes to road laws and regulations.
All electric bicycles must have a visible permanent label indicating its class, top assisted speed, and motor wattage.
A modified electric bike must have an updated label showing accurate information.
E-bikes must be equipped with the same equipment required for regular bicycles
An e-bike must be fully operable in a manner that the electric motor disengages or ceases to function at the moment the rider stops pedaling, or the brakes are applied.
Class 3 bicycles must be equipped with a speedometer
Location of operation:
Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are permitted to be operated on any road, shared-use path, or bicycle path intended for bicycles.
The state agencies or local authorities may limit the access or prohibit the use of e-bikes on facilities, properties, and rights-of-way- under their own jurisdiction and control.
Class 3 e-bikes are prohibited from any bicycle path or shared-use path that are not within or adjacent to a highway
The local authority or state agency that has jurisdiction over certain paths can permit the use of class 3 e-bikes over such paths.
E-bikes are not allowed on trails that are designated for non-motorized activities, unless granted permission by the local authority.
The rider of a Class 3 e-bike must be at least 15 years old. Riding as a passenger is exempt from this age restriction
Any person who operates a class 3 e-bikes must wear a helmet.
All rental class 3 e-bikes must have an accompanying protective bike helmet, unless the person who is renting already has a helmet
All helmets must meet or exceed the impact standards for bicycle helmets made by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
All helmets must be secured to the person’s head.
Violators are not subject to negligence.
Manufacturers and distributors are required to affix a permanent label -- containing the information stated in the labeling section --- in a visible location
Manufacturers shall strictly follow the class specification system so that the electric motor engages and disengages when the required speed limit is reached
Manufacturers shall ensure compliance with the established equipment and manufacturing requirements
General bicycling guidelines
Show the applicable hand signals from the left side:
Left turn signal - extend hand and arm horizontally
Right turn signal - extend hand and arm upward, except that a bicycle operator may signal from the right side of the vehicle with the hand and arm extended horizontally
Stop or decrease speed signal - extend hand and arm downward
No person is allowed to ride astride the bicycle’s permanent seat or any other attached seat dedicated for a passenger
The rider shall only ride on a firmly attached and regular saddle.
The rider shall not carry anything that will compromise his/her safety by preventing him/her to have two hands on the handlebar
No electric bicycle shall carry more than what it is designed for.
Carrying a child shall be allowed for as long as the bike is designed for it and there is a designated seat
No rider shall attach the bike or the self to any vehicle or trolley
Riding electric bicycles on trails that are not reserved for such and are historically reserved for non-motorized bicycles are prohibited
Comparison with other states
The three-tier classification system in Georgia is also used in 25 other states. In New Jersey and West Virginia, only two classes are recognized. More than 20 states in the U.S. have varying helmet requirements for e-bike riders.
In the United States, e-bike laws vary from state-to-state. Georgia has a specific definition for electric bicycles, and also uses the three-tier classification system. Class 3 e-bikes must only be operated by persons that are age 15 and above. Helmets are required for class 3 operators. E-bike operations in roadways and trails may vary.
Safety is your primary concern when riding your e-bike. Make sure to follow the general bicycling guidelines. E-bikes are the product of modern day technology and many people love it. This is why laws must be more specific when it comes to electric bicycles.
Want to learn more about Electric Bikes? Check out some of our most recent article below!
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