In 2019, two bills were passed in the 2019 Indiana State Legislature Session. These are SB361 and HB1236. The laws give clarity to e-bike rules and regulations and a more specific definition for electric bicycles.
Definition of electric bicycle
The state of Indiana defines an electric bicycle as a bicycle that is equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor that does not exceed 750watts. An e-bike belongs to any of the following classes:
A Class 1 electric bicycle is equipped with a motor that only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling. This e-bike is also known as “pedal assist”. The electric assistance stops when the bicycle reaches the speed limit of 20mph.
A Class 2 electric bicycle is equipped with a motor that may be exclusively used to propel the bicycle, even without pedaling. A class 2 e-bike has a throttle allowing this to happen. The electric assistance stops when the bicycle reaches the speed limit of 20mph.
A Class 3 electric bicycle is equipped with a motor that only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling, just like a class 1. The main difference is that the electric assistance stops when the bicycle reaches the speed limit of 28mph. A class 3 e-bike is the fastest among the three classes.
Reading the full legislation would take up much of your precious time. So here’s a summary of the most significant points in the e-bike laws in Indiana:
Electric bicycles are regulated like human-powered bicycles. The same rules of the road apply to both bicycles in terms of speed, proper passing, local traffic laws, speed limits, safety equipment, and other ordinances.
Electric bicycles do not need to be registered or insured. You do not need to carry a driver’s license when operating an ebike.
Electric bicycles can be ridden on roadways and bicycle lanes.
Any person who operates a class 3 e-bike must wear a helmet.
Any person who rides as a passenger of a class 3 e-bike must wear a helmet.
Any person below the age of 18 must wear a helmet.
An operator of a class 3 e-bike must be at least 15 years old.
A person under the age of 15 may ride as a passenger on a class 3 e-bike that is designed to carry a passenger.
Class 3 e-bikes are prohibited on trails, bicycle paths, and multipurpose paths unless the such paths are within or adjacent to a highway or roadway. However, the local authority or state agency within jurisdiction can specifically allow it.
The local authority or state agency with jurisdiction has the power to regulate or prohibit the use of e-bikes. It is important to check your local laws to avoid potential violations.
Electric Mountain Bike (eMTB) guidelines
eMTB access varies significantly on federal, state, county and local trails.
The general rule is that any natural surface trail that is open to both motorized and non-motorized activities allow electric mountain bikes.
eMTBs are usually prohibited on trails that are designated to non-motorized activities.
Know the local rules before attempting to ride your eMTB in areas with unclear rules.
You can always ask your local land manager to learn the rules on specific trails.
State and Federal Trails guidelines
There is no eMTB policy on trails that belong to the state. You can contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to gain the most up to date information. You can also check out the PeopleForBikes website which is monitoring state laws in the U.S.
The U.S. Forest Service holds the jurisdiction for the majority of public lands managed for recreation. You can contact the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Regional Office for more information.
Importance of e-bike laws
Electric bicycles offer many benefits to a wide range of people because of the electrical assistance it provides. It also allows people to travel at higher speeds, greater distances, and better efficiency. E-bikes are the perfect ride for daily commutes, workouts, or family and social bonding.
The growing popularity of e-bikes is the reason why more states are updating e-bike laws. The three-class system that is used in Indiana, is also used by more than 20 states. Helmet laws are important as well that’s why at least 25 states have implemented helmet requirements for operators and passengers.
Now that you know the e-bike laws in Indiana, it’s time to learn about e-bike safety tips. Here are safety guidelines that you can follow:
Always wear a protective helmet. This is a life-saver.
To maximize safety, wear gloves, reflectorized vests, and pads.
Equip your e-bike with additional lighting, reflectors, and an audible signal like a horn or a bell.
Always follow the traffic. Do not counterflow because vehicles from incoming traffic will be distracted.
Remember to use hand signals to indicate your movements.
As much as possible, ride on a bicycle lane.
Ride to the most right side of the road unless there are hazards to avoid, or pedestrians crossing.
Do not attempt to overtake larger and faster vehicles.
Do not carry packages or items that will hinder you from having two hands on the handlebars.
Do not carry passengers on e-bikes that are not designed to carry one.
Do not attempt to go super fast, especially if you are a beginner.
Do not press the brakes suddenly. Motorists behind you might not be able to react immediately.
The state of Indiana follows the three-tier classification in defining electric bicycles. E-bikes are regulated in the same manner as human-powered vehicles. All class 3 e-bike operators and passengers must wear a helmet. Any person below 18 years old must wear a helmet when operating an e-bike.
E-bike laws must be updated and implemented because of the growing e-bike community. There are many safety tips to follow. Follow the law at all times to avoid accidents and violations. Be a responsible e-bike rider.
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