Depends what type of electric bicycle you are dealing with.
Public Law 107-319
To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide that low-speed electric
bicycles are consumer products subject to such Act.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY ACT.
The Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2051 et seq.)
is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘LOW-SPEED ELECTRIC BICYCLES
‘‘SEC. 38. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, lowspeed
electric bicycles are consumer products within the meaning
of section 3(a)(1) 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) 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) To further protect the safety of consumers who ride lowspeed
electric bicycles, the Commission may promulgate new or
amended requirements applicable to such vehicles as necessary
‘‘(d) 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).''.
SEC. 2. MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS.
For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards issued and
enforced pursuant to chapter 301 of title 49, United States Code,
49 USC 30102
15 USC 2085.
Dec. 4, 2002
VerDate 11-MAY-2000 23:31 Dec 10, 2002 Jkt 019139 PO 00319 Frm 00001 Fmt 6580 Sfmt 6581 E:\PUBLAW\PUBL319.107 apps27 PsN: PUBL319
PUBLIC LAW 107-319-DEC. 4, 2002 116 STAT. 2777
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY-H.R. 727:
HOUSE REPORTS: No. 107-5 (Comm. on Energy and Commerce).
Vol. 147 (2001): Mar. 6, considered and passed House.
Vol. 148 (2002): Nov. 18, considered and passed Senate.
a low-speed electric bicycle (as defined in section 38(b) of the Consumer
Product Safety Act) shall not be considered a motor vehicle
as defined by section 30102(6) of title 49, United States Code.
Approved December 4, 2002.
As long as the electric bicycles conform with the specifications for electric bicycles in U.S. Public Law 107-319 (which is the above stated law) they may be operated in Massachusetts anywhere a bicycle may be operated. The rider does not need a license or learner's permit to operate one.
Hope this helps.
I need to apologize as I misinterpreted the federal statute governing the design and usage of eletric or motorized bicycles. According to federal statute 15 U.S.C. 2051 et. seq. According to the language of that statute, the federal law is to supercede any more stringent state law. In Massachusetts, the law provides that the operation of a motorized bicycle requires a driver's license of learner's permit. Thus, I thought incorrectly that the Massachusetts law would be superceded. However, I did not take into account the fact that the applicable federal statute really does not deal with the operation of a motorized bicycle on public thoroughfares, and this is only dealt with by the relevant state laws governing vehicular operation upon public roadways.
Accordingly, in Massachusetts, a motorized bicycle is considered a pedal bicycle which has a helper motor, or a non-pedal bicycle which has a motor, with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty (50) cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour. Mopeds fall into the category of "motorized bicycles" (with or without pedals) and are therefore regulated by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
Thus, you would need a license for your electric bicycle.
Sorry for any misdirection and inconvenienc. Hope this clarifies the issues.
If the source from whom you heard about this case was correct, then it must be very recent. Otherwise, the RMV would or should be aware of it so I suggest you contact them.
That being stated, since I have been unable to specifically clarify/answer your question, I am opting out, so that hopefully, another expert with knowledge about that case comes aboard to assist you.
Good luck and happy biking!
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