E-Bike Trail Access Explained

Electric bikes, commonly known as e-bikes, are a popular new category that is attracting a lot of attention from riders looking to make cycling easier. These bikes have an electric motor that assists the rider but (most) still require pedaling. The assisted pedaling puts them in a grey area between motorized and non-motorized vehicles. This has created new questions about where these bikes can be ridden. Adding to the confusion there are different classes of e-bikes with their own restrictions.

No need to worry, we are here to help and our staff is well trained on these products. Additionally, we only stock e-bikes which are legal to use on the nearby bike paths. The chart below explains how the different classes are defined and where they can be ridden.

Class I Class II Class III
Must have seat and operating bicycle pedals Yes Yes Yes
Maximum motor power 750 watts 750 watts 750 watts
Motor only assists when pedaling Yes No Yes
Maximum speed for motor operation 20 MPH 20 MPH 28 MPH
Minimum operator age None None 14
Helmet required No No Ages 14-18
Allowed on roadways, bike lanes, shoulders, and sidewalks Yes Yes Yes
Allowed on paved/gravel trails Yes, but can be regulated or prohibited No, but can be authorized No, but can be authorized
Allowed on non-motorized natural surface trail No, but can be authorized No, but can be authorized No, but can be authorized

For the definitive regulations, see the legislation HB 4781HB 4782, and HB 4783.

Can I ride an e-bike on the Little Traverse Wheelway?

Yes, if it is a Class I (does not have a throttle, does not exceed 20mph assisted). These bikes would also be allowed on the Northwestern State Trail and the other Rail-Trails in the region.

Extra care should be taken when riding the wheelway in the waterfront area and through Bay View. The trail is busiest in these places and an e-bikes extra weight, and power make it’s handling slower. Take it slow and be courteous to other trail users.

But really can’t I ride any e-bike on the Little Traverse Wheelway?

The spirit of the wheelway is non-motorized fun and transportation. It is intended primarily for walkers, runners, and bikers. Plus, it is a great spot for families to ride with small children. If e-bikes become a threat or danger on the path they will likely be banned. By following the rules you are helping to preserve this access.

no emtb

What about mountain bike trails?

The Michigan Electric Bike Law specifically prohibits the operation of all e-bikes on non-motorized trails. No mountain bike trails in our area allow e-bikes. If you are looking for a place to ride an e-mountain bike good options are ORV trails, dirt roads / two-tracks, or private property.

If you have any questions about e-bike access we are happy to help, stop in or contact us at info@latitude45.com.

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