Cycling has always been one of the best modes of commuting owing to its multifarious benefits. Being environmentally friendly and helping people in keeping physically fit are the most significant ones.
Electric biking is the latest form of cycling which is in trend among humans as they have grown more conscious about remaining fit and protecting their surroundings by creating less pollution. With the difference in its model and structure comes the variation in its guidelines for usage as age is an important factor.
How old do I need to be to ride an electric bike? The minimum age requirement for riding electric bicycles ranges from 14 to 16 years in most countries around the globe. The minimum age requirement is a direct function of the e-bike’s motor wattage and maximum speed limit.
This is directly co-related to several on-ground situations such as the number of traffic congestions on the road, danger possibility, availability of dedicated cycle paths, and, most importantly, wattage of motor and maximum speed limit.
Different countries have different laws because traffic conditions are not the same everywhere. The various laws related to e-bikes in a sample of countries are discussed herein.
If you live in Canada then you must know that it only allows electric bikes in some of its regions that have different requirements. A vehicle here needs to have a motor less than 500W. In some places, people even need to pass a motorcycle test to be able to legally ride an e-bike.
You don’t need any license if you are riding on Indian roads provided your vehicle is below 250 W and speed less than 30km/h, but if the specifications of your e-bike are higher than the mentioned ones then you need an ARAI approval.
In the USA different states have different regulations. The government exercises more control over cc (750-1000W) which in turn leads to controlling speed as well.
There, an electric bike is considered equally good as a motorcycle, so it falls under the same regulations.
In Japan also you don’t need a license for your e-bike as it is considered just like a normal cycle, so you just need to choose from safety equipment as per your convenience. It is not a compulsion otherwise.
In Singapore, the minimum age prescribed for e-bike riders is 16 years or older. Wearing a helmet is compulsory and the speed limit is capped at 25km/h. It is illegal to take your e-bike on the footpath in Singapore. The maximum power output is 250W.
The e-bikes are prominently used by kids, teenagers, adults as well as senior citizens, as they cater to the needs of all age groups in various aspects of lives.
Kids are invited to have fun, but with care
Kids are always inquisitive by nature. They have to try new things. E-bikes are the perfect gift for kids if you planning to surprise them instead of toys and video games. The very sight of a simple bike attached with a powerful motor, speedometer and all, fascinates them.
Very quickly they tend to ride these bikes to experience the ultimate thrill. Here, elders should supervise them as these bikes are more heft than their normal bikes. Small children have a probable chance of falling and getting hurt. Hence parents should always escort them rightly. It is recommended that children below 12 years should mandatorily wear protective headgear.
Parents’ consent should be mandatory to ride these bikes. Children below 6 years should not be given e-bikes in any case. For children in the age group of 6-12 years, e-bikes size, weight, motor power, and the speed limit should be regulated by law and any violation of it should invite a penalty. Traffic rules should be taught at home and at school also.
Teenagers between 14 to 18
Teenagers fall already in the 14+ age category, so they do have a legal base to ride an electric bicycle in most of the countries, where age is regulated.
In most countries around the world, although licensing, registration and vehicle tax are exempted for these e-bikes, from the safety point of view it won’t really hurt anybody to wear helmets as “Helmets Saves Life”.
Like all riders, teenagers should observe traffic laws sincerely and thus become better citizens and contribute to nation building.
Adults – riding at full speed
The rules regarding riding e-bikes vary from country to country and region to region. While some countries cap the maximum speed limit at 25 km/h and motor output to 250 W, some have a higher range as well (32 km/h and 500W output).
College-going students, working professionals can make use of these e-bikes to commute within the city. These bikes provide great exercise and thus people need not have to give additional time for “gym”. Buying daily groceries from nearby markets on these e-bikes saves a lot of time and effort, besides keeping obesity at bay.
As adults are more mature than children and teenagers, more gentle behavior is expected from them. The laws around the world have given more relaxation to adults as compared to children below 14 years of age.
Their relaxation should never be taken as a privilege as injuries, accidents, mishappenings are blind for any age gap. Adults should strictly follow traffic rules and set an example for the younger generation to follow.
For seniors – because you are most valued
There is no such limitation on senior people that prohibits them from riding e-bikes. Riding e-bikes are in fact a great “panacea” for seniors as an optimum level of physical movement of limbs is involved. E-bikes help senior people to remain fit as it helps them burn excess cholesterol and keep them happy and motivated.
However, it would not be a bad idea to have our eyesight checked. If any type of locomotor disability is there, it is recommended to take doctors advice. Vigorous exercise is not recommended in the senior age group. Senior citizens should always cycle on a dedicated cycling path. So, for senior citizens: Yes, to e-biking. Yes, to health.
A few words in conclusion
Electric bikes are great machines which help riders to commute in an eco-friendly way.
Various laws have been enacted in various counties of the world governing the minimum age required to ride these bikes. The minimum age in most of the scenarios is as low as 14 years. In some cases, the minimum age is 16 years.
The minimum age criterion is a direct function of motor wattage and maximum speed limit. While licensing, registration and insurance are exempted in most cases, as a precautionary measure most countries recommend wearing helmets while riding electric-assisted bicycles.
Is a medical certificate required to ride an e-bike?
Well, in most of the cases as long as the motor used is below 250 watts and maximum speed is capped at 25 km/hr; no medical certificate is needed officially.
However, from the safety point of view, it is recommended that the rider should not be suffering from any locomotors disability. He/she should have a good vision also. For the safety of self and others on the road, it is recommended that teenagers should have a thorough knowledge of traffic rules and must obey them religiously.
Do electric bikes require insurance?
Most of the countries in which electric bikes are used do not require insurance compulsorily. It is because, in those countries, these electric bikes are not registered as “Motor Vehicles”; and hence do not come under the purview of “Motor Vehicle Act”.
Some countries do start to require a special e-biking insurance policy if you want to ride an electric bike. Make sure you check current regulations in your country or region. The situation evolves very fast as e-bikes and other electric vehicles become more and more popular.
Do the owners need to pay road tax for e-bikes?
No, in most of the countries no road tax is needed to be paid to regional transport authorities. The governments across the world would like to promote maximum usage of e-bikes, so taxing them isn’t a great idea. Moreover, these bikes are not too much heavy or space consuming that they need to be taxed. In some countries, e-bikes even get subsidized parking facilities.
Here is a quick video outlinining e-bike regulations in New York City: