The price of a gallon of gasoline and current economic conditions, have forced many people to consider alternate forms of transportation. One alternative is the electric bike. An electric bike is simply a standard bicycle with a motor attached and powered by a battery. The benefits such as environmental are worth the research necessary to conform to the safety and legal requirements in the area of operation. Legal and safety requirements vary by state and country and some have not yet addressed the electric bicycle in their laws.
Safety requirements are necessary for the safety of the cyclist and the motorist. Some such as a helmet are not a requirement but should be worn to protect the head from injury in a crash. Riding a bike on the sidewalk is prohibited in some areas but it should be in all areas. At intersections, motorists are not looking for a bicycle approaching from a sidewalk and may not see it in time to avoid a crash. The main safety requirement for electric bikes is to obey the same traffic laws as automobiles. This means that the cyclist must be able to see traffic signals and signs. It is very unsafe to ride against the traffic and does not aid in visibility.
Legal requirements also depend on the country and state in which the electric bike is operated. In the United States, an electric bike must not exceed 20 miles per hour on level streets. The battery can not provide more than 750 watts of power to the motor. Individual states have mandated other requirements such as a license, registration and insurance and limited the age of cyclists. Some states such as Florida also require headlights and taillights to be mounted on the bicycle.
Other countries have been more receptive to the electric bike especially those in which the bicycle is the primary source of transportation. Most other countries have defined an electric bicycle in the same was as the United States. The electric bicycle can not be powered with a battery over 750 watts and the maximum speed is 20 to 30 miles per hour.
For instance, in the UK, the electric bike is considered to be a standard bicycle if it does not exceed 40 kg in weight with the battery. It can not exceed 25 k or 15.5 miles per hour and its battery can not provide more than 250 watts of power. It must have operating pedals and teens under 14 can not ride a motorized bike.
Most other countries have restrictions tailored to the definition of an electric bike mainly due to the wide variety of them. Some countries prohibit the conversion of a standard bike to an electric one by use of the kits. The best option is to be sure of the legal and safety requirements in the area of the operation of the electric bike.
Source by Delbert Laird