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Electric bicycles -- Oregon -- Portland, Cyclists -- Oregon -- Portland -- Public opinion, Electric bicycles -- Effect on reducing barriers to cycling


Throughout the world, the electric bicycle (e-bike) industry is growing very quickly. The North American market has been somewhat slow to adopt this technology, which is still considered to be in the “early adopter” phase (Rose & Dill, 2011; Rose, 2011), but in recent years, this has begun to change. But as e-bike numbers increase, so too will potential conflicts (actual or perceived) with other vehicles and non-motorized devices, bicycles and pedestrians, causing policy questions to arise. Indeed, conflicting user groups are petitioning state legislatures and local governments for permission to operate legally on roadways and paths or to ban these devices.

Although some states, such as Oregon, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, have created specific e-bike legislation, other states’ legislation surrounding e-bikes is best described as nebulous. The confusion stems from the wide variety of devices and technologies on the market; perceived overlap of legal entities' jurisdiction over the device, which under certain circumstances can be either a consumer product or a motor vehicle; outdated laws and regulations; and inconsistency of terms. The purpose of this paper is to outline the different classifications of ebikes—what they are and what they are not—and to help shed light on aspects of federal and state legislation of e-bikes. In addition, this paper explores the potential conflicts these regulations may cause for the adoption of this technology.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-564, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at:

For the later, related Final Report NITC-RR-564B, see

The project brief associated with this report can be found at:

Associated posters and presentations have been added as supplemental files to this document.



Persistent Identifier

Bike Urban Symposium - UW.pdf (1046 kB)
Bike Urban Symposium poster

E-bikes_in_North_America.pdf (1169 kB)
TRB presentation text

ebikes_OTREC.pdf (1229 kB)
Infographic poster

Ebikes_Slides_111914.pdf (1785 kB)
APBP ebike poster

EEVC2014-pres-1180169.pdf (2420 kB)
EEVC 2014 slides

14-4885_poster_11-Jan-14.pdf (1164 kB)
Ebikes in North America poster

TRB_Regulations_Poster--318pm_draft.pdf (1794 kB)
TRB regulations poster