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Rhode Island General Assembly Approves Legislation to Regulate Electric Bicycles in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island General Assembly voted today to approve legislation from Rep. Jennifer Boylan and Sen. Dawn Euer to expand the legal use of electric bicycles in Rhode Island by modernizing their classification and regulation.

The legislation (2024-H 7713A, 2024-S 2829A) now heads to the governor’s desk.

“As e-bikes have exploded in popularity, Rhode Island’s regulations have lagged behind,” said Representative Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence). “Modernizing our regulations will allow people to use e-bikes safely, getting cars off the road while simultaneously limiting the use of certain electric bicycles on our bike paths.”

Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, emphasized the benefits of e-bikes. “E-bikes have tremendous potential to ease congestion on our roads and reduce carbon emissions while allowing our residents and visitors greater mobility when enjoying our beautiful state. This bill ensures that the growing use of e-bikes will be regulated and safe for both riders and pedestrians.”

This legislation would update Rhode Island regulations of electric bicycles in four main ways:

  1. It would define three classes of electric bicycles, consistent with national standards.
  2. It would allow Class 1 electric bicycles, which provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling and cease to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches 20 miles per hour, to use state bike paths.
  3. It would allow the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to set guidelines governing the use of electric bicycles at all properties it manages.
  4. It would require Rhode Islanders under 21 to wear a helmet while riding an electric bicycle.

“DEM appreciates Chairwoman Euer and Representative Boylan for sponsoring legislation to modernize Rhode Island’s treatment of electric bicycles in state law as they become increasingly popular,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “This law will provide increased opportunities for riders who use e-bikes for both commuting and outdoor recreation purposes while protecting public safety. DEM looks forward to working collaboratively with our partners to ensure the safety of all bike path users and engaging the public’s input on e-bike usage at properties we manage. As Rhode Islanders continue to explore alternative modes of transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, e-bikes can provide a cleaner and greener way to get around.”

The bill, aimed at ensuring safe and effective integration of e-bikes into the state’s transportation infrastructure, marks a significant step forward in Rhode Island’s efforts to promote sustainable and eco-friendly transportation options.




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