The use of electric bicycles in Ohio is governed by Ohio Revised Code § 4511.522, which establishes three classes of electric bicycles: Class I, Class II, and Class III. A Class I electric bicycle provides power only when the rider is pedaling and has an assisted top speed of 20 mph; a Class II bike can provide power without the rider pedaling and has an assisted top speed of 20 mph, and Class III provides power only when the rider is pedaling and has an assisted top speed of 28 mph. A Class III bike must also have a speedometer.
Under this statute, manufacturers are required by Ohio law to indicate directly on the body of the electric bicycle what class the bike is, what the top speed achievable by assistive electric power is, and the wattage of the bike’s motor.
Ohio law also restricts the people who can use electric bicycles and the way in which the bikes can be used: Class III bikes cannot operate on pathways designated for use by bicycles only or shared-used pathways, and those younger than 16 years old may not operate Class III electric bicycles. There is significant discussion over the use of electric bikes in the same areas as non-electric or non-motorized vehicles.
Ohio law prohibits the use of electric bicycles on any “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 nonmotorized use . . . .” In other words, you cannot ride an electric bicycle of any class on typical “outdoorsy” trails. This restriction is typical—these types of trails are normally narrower and more technical.
Electric bicycles are most often used in and around town. The Toledo Metroparks, which maintains nearly 130 miles of bike-accessible trails throughout Northwest Ohio, has historically banned the use of motorized vehicles on its trails, including vehicles with electric motors. However, as of July 1, 2022, the organization voted to lift those restrictions, allowing electric bikes and other electric vehicles to use Metroparks trails alongside other users.
However you decide to get out and get active, be sure to review and abide by local, state, and federal regulations. Biker or hiker, look out for your fellow recreationists to ensure everyone has the chance to safely explore the outdoors.