E-bikes are classified as "motor driven bicycles" and are subject to the registration, licensing and insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles. However, New York's Department of Motor Vehicles does not recognize e-bikes as vehicles with these requirements and has no system for supplying registration and licensing. Therefore, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles asserts that riding an electric bicycle on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk, or other area that is open to public motor vehicle traffic in New York State is illegal.
The use of e-bikes in New York City is governed by city laws. Under existing city ordinances and regulations, class 1 electric assisted bicycles that can travel up to 20 MPH and require the operator to be pedaling are treated as bicycles under city law. Other electric bicycles are treated as “motorized scooters” and may not be ridden within the city.
On federal, state, county and local trails, e-mountain bike (eMTB) access varies significantly.
Generally, any natural surface trail that is designated as open to both motorized and non-motorized uses is also open to eMTBs.
eMTBs may not be allowed on trails managed for non-motorized activities.
Do not ride your eMTB in areas where the local rules are unclear. Ride legally and only on authorized trails to show that mountain bikers are responsible trail users.
When in doubt, ask your local land manager about access to specific trails. Local land rules change frequently.
NEW YORK’S E-BIKE LAW FOR TRAILS
LOCAL: Consult your local land management agency.
STATE: The New York State Office of Parks, Recreations & Historic Preservation classifies e-bikes as motorized vehicles and provides eMTB access on motorized trails.
FEDERAL: New York has very little federally managed public lands, but on federal lands managed for recreation, as of August 29th 2019 all eBikes up to 750 watt can now access Federal Lands and natural parks anywhere a regular bicycle can access. The one exception is National Forests, the forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture and these changes are not implemented yet on the forests. Changes are happening to align all Federal land to the recent Order.