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Are E-Bikes Allowed on Trails? Understanding Indiana’s New E-Bike Laws

Although more than one-quarter of a million e-bikes are sold every year in the US, many riders are still fuzzy about the rules and regulations surrounding this highly-popular form of transportation. With an estimated 75% growth annually, the industry has prompted the creation of new e-bike laws in states across the country, including Indiana. 

E-bikes offer the safety and comfort of standard bikes while offering some major advantages such as higher speeds, greater distances, and higher-efficiency. Whether you’re a baby-boomer looking to enjoy bike riding without too much physical exertion, a parent needing a convenient way to get your kids around, or an urbanite dying to ditch public transportation, e-bikes are great for everyone. 

With a diverse array of e-bike users, there are naturally varying degrees of familiarity and experience with these bikes in addition to different preferences when it comes to speed, pace, and overall riding style. Part of the motivation behind passing new e-bike laws in Indiana is to make the roads and trails as safe as possible for everyone. After all, we’re all in this together

What does Indiana’s e-bike law say?

According to Indiana’s e-bike law, there are three groups under which e-bikes can fall. The following categories help users determine the rules they need to follow. 

  • Class 1 – These are bikes outfitted with motors that only offer assistance when the user is pedaling while also ceasing to assist if the bike goes over 20 mph. 
  • Class 2 – Bicycles that come with throttle-actuated motors while ceasing to assist after exceeding 20 mph are placed into this category. 
  • Class 3 – If bicycles are outfitted with motors that assist riders only when they’re pedaling while ceasing assistance after the bike reaches 28 mph, they’re in the final group. 

In Indiana, e-bikes are regulated just the same as normal bicycles. Rules of the road that apply to bicycles powered by humans also apply to e-bikes. Furthermore, e-bikes don’t require the same insurance, licensing, and registration as motor vehicles. Since local and state authorities have the ability to dictate where e-bikes can go, it’s always important to double-check with the relevant agencies to determine where you can and can’t ride. 

Laws regarding access for e-mountain bikes (eMTB) on local, county, state, and federal trails vary widely. In general, trails with a natural surface that are open to non-motorized and motorized vehicles are open to eMTBs as well. However, these e-bikes might not be permitted on trails specified for non-motorized use. It’s advisable to refrain from riding your eMTB on trails where rules aren’t clear. 

The importance of trail etiquette 

Trail etiquette is absolutely key when it comes to riding e-bikes responsibly. While staying abreast of relevant laws on both federal, state, and local levels is important, that’s not the only part of the puzzle. 

Simple gestures like vocalizing your approach to bikers ahead of you on a trail along with your intention to pass can work wonders. A quick “Hey, coming up on your left” can mean the difference between a terrible accident and an enjoyable day of e-bike riding for everyone. Feel free to check out this handout to learn more about Indiana e-bike laws. 

If you’re interested in renting an e-bike in the Indianapolis area, reach out to EZ-E Bike Rentals today. 

Sources: 

https://www.bgindy.com/articles/e-bike-bills-in-indiana-2019-legislative-session-talking-points-pg2402.htm

https://wsd-pfb-sparkinfluence.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2019/05/E-Bike-Law-Handouts_IN_new2019_april.pdf

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