Several folks have done a deep dive into the state laws when it comes to referencing E-Bikes and Motorcycles. Some have claimed that E-Bikes are defined as Motorcycles, yet according to state law, NOT so fast;

When I was reviewing this a few months ago I noticed that a lot of the E-Bike definitions and laws have been updated a few years ago, so someone is clinging to the past.

So for the record, E-Bikes are NOT motorcycles because they have an electric motor (and other factors like speed, torque, weight, horsepower, etc.).

There has also been a debate about whether E-Bikes should be allowed on sidewalks. In a perfect world, I would say yes, but their should be a courteous suggestion in the ordinance that says when encountering any pedestrian or ADA motorist on the sidewalk you fully stop your bike until they pass. But since E-Bikes are defined as BIKES and NOT motorcycles and BIKES are allowed on sidewalks, it is only logical to include E-Bikes on sidewalks.

As I have stated, I do ride my bike on the sidewalk in certain areas in town and rarely do I see a ped, and when I do, I either stop or slow way down when passing. Also, I would prefer NOT to ride the sidewalks because you have to ride them at around 5 MPH because they are so full of cracks and divets. I tell bike commuters to try to avoid sidewalks as much as possible, they are more dangerous then the roads.

5 Thoughts on “E-Bikes are NOT defined as Motorcycles in state law

  1. Very Stable Genius on January 29, 2024 at 4:05 pm said:

    State law makes an exception for E-bikes, because the initial generic definition of motorcycles obviously describes E-bikes. By giving E-bikes an exclusivity – per state law – does not remove the potential harm they are to others – which is analogous to the harm that a motorcycle could present – on the bike trail, or sidewalk or whatever.

    The mere fact that state law has to make mention of E-bikes as a part of the definition of motorcycles in essence admits that E-bikes for all practical purposes are motorcycles, but because of a public policy decision, which has been legislated into the state statutes, they are not.

    If I say my dog ain’t a dog, then what kind of bite is it when he bites you? A cat bite? But it’s not a dog bite, right? Although, it’s as painful and damaging as a dog bite.

    ( and Woodstock adds: “Well, you know what old Dan Rather used to say: ‘If walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and sounds like a duck, then it must be a duck”…. )

  2. Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on January 29, 2024 at 4:08 pm said:

    Based on the logic of the state law defining motorcycles Tesla’s are not cars. So why do Tesla owners have to license them as cars?

  3. Electric motors are motors. Internal combustion engines are NOT “motors” – they are engines. So technically (vs. legally) anything powered by an ICE is NOT a “motor” vehicle. I mean, if one wants to get technical about the meanings of words and definitions and such.

  4. E-Pogo Stick Enthusiast on January 31, 2024 at 2:17 pm said:

    So, a motorcycle is an engine cycle, while an E-bike is a cycle with an actual motor, or a motorcycle, but for public policy reasons they exempt it from the motorcycle definition, huh?…. Which means that motorcycles are phony motorcycles, while E-bikes are the real thing, but discriminated against when it comes to their true presence, huh?…. Very interesting….. #StopTheDiscriminationNow! #EmpowerEbikesInMoreWaysThanOne!

  5. #FreeTheEBike

    Where the middle of the State is missing the point is a lot of these machines are heavy enough & have enough power to replace the motorized Quads & whatever all the hunters are using to get out and back. Bonus is the animal has less chance to hear you coming.

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