These are Federal regulations for electrics, which supercede any state law which 
is more stringent.  For gas, 48 cc engines traveling less than 20 M.P.H. are 
STREET & BIKE PATH LEGAL in most states.  For legal concerns, we recommend 
checking with your local DMV to determine if 48cc gas-powered or electric 
bicycles require registration.
 
 
Section 2085. Low-speed electric bicycles
 
    (a) Construction
      Notwithstanding any other provision of law, low-speed electric
    bicycles are consumer products within the meaning of section
    2052(a)(1) of this title and shall be subject to the Commission
    regulations published at section 1500.18(a)(12) and part 1512 of
    title 16, Code of Federal Regulations.
    (b) Definition
      For the purpose of this section, the term ''low-speed electric
    bicycle'' means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable
    pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose
    maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such
    a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less
    than 20 mph.
    (c) Promulgation of requirements
      To further protect the safety of consumers who ride low-speed
    electric bicycles, the Commission may promulgate new or amended
    requirements applicable to such vehicles as necessary and
    appropriate.
    (d) Preemption
      This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with
    respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such
    State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or
    requirements referred to in subsection (a) of this section.

 

 
A00071 Memo:
 
TITLE OF BILL:  An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in 
relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycle                                 
                                                                               
PURPOSE:    This  bill  clarifies  the vehicle and traffic law to 
define electric assisted bicycles; establish that electric  assisted  
bicycles, as  defined,  are bicycles, not motor vehicles; and establish
safety and operational criteria for their use.                                          
                                                                               
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:  Section 1 of the bill adds a new  Section  
102-c to  the vehicle and traffic law, defining electric assisted 
bicycles as: 
      
A bicycle with two or three wheels which has a saddle and  fully  
operative pedals for human propulsion, and also has an electric motor. 
However,  the  electric motor should not have a power output of more 
than one thousand watts, and should be incapable of propelling the  
device  at  a speed  of  more than twenty miles per hour on level 
ground. The electric motor should also be incapable of further 
increasing the  speed  of  the device  when  human  power alone is 
used to propel the device at or more than twenty miles per hour. 
                                                                               
Section 2 adds an exception in section 125 of the  vehicle  and  
traffic law  to  the statutory definition of motor vehicle for 
electric assisted bicycles.                              
                                                                               
Section 3 adds a new section 1240 to the vehicle and traffic law, 
making the rules, regulations and provisions of the  vehicle  and  
traffic law applicable  to  bicycles applicable to electric assisted 
bicycles; makes the federal equipment and manufacturing  requirements  
for  bicycles  or motor  driven  cycles applicable to electric 
assisted bicycles; and adds the following operational and safety 
requirements for electric assisted bicycles:  electric motor 
disengagement criteria; all operators and passengers are required 
to wear bicycle helmets; and  no-one  under  the age of 16 may operate
 or as a passenger on an electric assisted bicycle and establishes 
the civil fine and enforcement procedures for failure to wear a helmet.    
                                                                               
Section 4 is the effective date.                                               
                                                                               
EXISTING LAW: None.                                                            
                                                                               
JUSTIFICATION:  Defining and establishing operational criteria for 
electric assisted bicycles will clarify for authorities that these  
vehicles are  more  akin to bicycles than motorcycles. This will 
assist in interpreting the application of the appropriate vehicle 
and traffic  laws to operators and passengers of these vehicles.  
                                                                               
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:                                                     
                                                                               
2004 A.588 - Passed Assembly; S.7389 - died in Senate Rules Committee          
 
2000 Original bill - Died in Assembly Transportation Committee.                
 
1999 Original bill - Died in Assembly Transportation Committee.                
                                                                               
1998 Original bill - Died in Assembly Transportation Committee.                
                                                                               
1997  Original bill -Reported by Assembly Transportation Committee; 
Died in Assembly Rules Committee                                     
                                                                               
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.                                                     
                                                                               
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.