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Can I ride my e-bike there?

Ohio recently passed a statewide e-bike law, which mirrors those in a growing list of states. It’s an effort to provide some regulation and standards for a type of powered vehicle that is growing in popularity, and destined to share pathways and trails with non-assisted machines. Before we can delve into where you can take them, a basic understanding of the categories is needed – as many of the restrictions are based upon them.

Classes of electric bikes, as defined by the law:

“Electric bicycle” means a “class 1 electric bicycle,” a “class 2 electric bicycle,” or a “class 3 electric bicycle” as defined in this section.

“Class 1 electric bicycle” means a bicycle that is equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty watts that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour.

“Class 2 electric bicycle” means a bicycle that is equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty watts that may provide assistance regardless of whether the rider is pedaling and is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty miles per hour.

“Class 3 electric bicycle” means a bicycle that is equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than seven hundred fifty watts that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of twenty-eight miles per hour.

Now, with that out of the way – we can look at where you can use these types of bikes.

The new statewide law states under Section C (edited lightly for clarity):

(1) The operation of a class 1 electric bicycle and a class 2 electric bicycle is permitted on
a path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles or on a shared-use path, unless the county, township,
municipal corporation, other local authority, or state agency with control over the path by resolution, ordinance, or rule prohibits the use on such a path.

(2) No person shall operate a class 3 electric bicycle on a path set aside for the exclusive use
of bicycles or a shared- use path unless that path is within or adjacent to a highway or the county,
township, municipal corporation, or local authority, or state agency with control over the path by resolution, ordinance, or rule authorizes the use.

(3) No person shall operate a class 1 electric bicycle, a class 2 electric bicycle, or a class 3
electric bicycle on a path that is intended to be used primarily for mountain biking, hiking, equestrian
use, or other similar uses, or any other single track or natural surface trail that has historically been
reserved for non-motorized use, unless the county, township, municipal corporation, other local
authority, or state agency a with control over the path by resolution, ordinance, or rule authorizes the use.

So, our current local situation is as follows:

On public streets: These bikes follow all of the same rules as traditional bikes, including using bike lanes. While all cyclists should give notice before they pass one another, those on Class 3 e-bikes should use extra caution as you are outside of the speed range that most other riders will be accustomed to being passed by.

In the Cleveland Metroparks: Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes may be used on the network of All Purpose Trails, but must travel safely and with respect to other trail users. Class 3 bikes are not allowed on the All Purpose Trails. Additionally, no e-bikes are permitted on any of the mountain bike trails.

On Summit Metroparks Trails: On the Bike & Hike and other multi-purpose paths, e-bikes are permitted at this time. However, e-bikes are not allowed on the mountain bike trails.

In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes may be used on all of the trails and roads that traditional bikes are permitted on (including the Towpath). All e-bikes are forbidden from using the East Rim Mountain Bike Trails.

If the location you frequent isn’t covered above, chances are they don’t have an official policy (yet) or are simply going to fall in line with the statewide guidelines until a need arises to do otherwise. When in doubt, never assume, check for signage or ask a ranger or representative before exploring too far into an area of uncertainty. It could save you a costly ticket!