Coming off an expensive statewide ballot election featuring all 120 elected Assemblymembers and Senators, the New Jersey state Legislature’s lame duck session currently is in full swing.
On Nov. 30, 2023, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-22, collaborated with Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11, to introduce e-bicycle and scooter insurance-related legislation, which would aim to ensure that New Jerseyans are insured properly and that their electric bicycles and scooters are registered with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission—just like their cars, motorcycles and motorboats.
Currently, New Jersey riders of Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes and scooters do not require a driver’s license, registration or insurance. This legislation would require low-speed electric bicycles and low-speed electric scooters to be registered with the MVC and to be insured with liability coverage, pedestrian personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage.
When New Jersey legalized e-bikes and e-scooters in the spring of 2019, the law added a new vehicle class to New Jersey’s state laws—low-speed electric bicycle—which is statutorily defined state and federally as “a two or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor bicycle, meaning a low-speed electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance of less than 750W, and created two classifications. A Class 1 low-speed bicycle, commonly referred to as a pedal-assist bicycle, means the electric motor aids the rider’s pedaling effort up to 20 miles per hour, then when the motor stops assisting, and the rider must rely on his or her pedaling for propulsion.
A Class 2 low-speed electric bicycle—commonly referred to as a throttle-assist—is an electric bicycle with a motor that can be used exclusively for propulsion—up to a speed of 20 miles per hour. While mechanically and operationally different, pedal-assist and throttle-assist are similar. They both must contain two or three wheels, have fully operable pedals, electric motors, and their speed must be restricted to 20 mph.
Conversely, while there is no federal definition for a “low-speed electric scooter,” the New Jersey legislation defines it as “a scooter with a floorboard that can be stood upon by the operator, with handlebars, and an electric motor that is capable of propelling the scooter with or without human propulsion at a maximum speed of less than 19 miles per hour.” The very definition of a “low-speed electric scooter” excludes hoverboards and one-wheel scooters since they operate without handlebars.
The New Jersey state Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to meet and vote on S-4132 Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.
Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.