Arizona Might Have Accidentally Made It Illegal for Kids to Ride Electric Bikes

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Electric bikes seem to elicit mixed responses from the public, but the reaction to using them on bike paths and off-road trails almost always tilts toward the negative end of the spectrum. That said, they can be fun and useful in some situations, though a new Arizona law could make it illegal for kids to enjoy e-bikes.

The law aims to make it illegal to operate an off-highway vehicle (OHV) with an open container or while consuming alcohol. It would also prohibit anyone without a driver’s license from operating an OHV, which includes electric bikes, under state law. Arizona defines OHVs as “transportation deriving motive power from a source other than muscle or wind.”

The intention is to prevent kids from operating ATVs and other motorized vehicles, but the law could bring a host of unintended consequences. Beyond impacting young riders’ ability to pilot e-bikes, the law may cause headaches for adult riders without driver’s licenses. While there will likely be people who raise the alarm on these issues, which could prompt a change in the law’s language, it’s odd that state lawmakers didn’t focus a bit more on the details.

Kids losing access to electric bikes would be a bummer, but there are certainly situations in which e-bikes are not appropriate. Riding on delicate trails and crowded bike paths can lead to environmental damage or injuries to people around the riders. Some models can reach speeds higher than 20 mph, making them dangerous for inexperienced riders.

[Images: Chris Mercer, Melissa Herzog, and CL Shebly via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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2 of 33 comments
  • Ebe65798320 Ebe65798320 on Jun 25, 2024

    As I explained over on the electrec article, No, AZ did NOT just inadvertenetly (or otherwise) mis or re classify all ebikes as OHV's --

    Micah, I am not a lawyer (either) but you are barking up the wrong tree here; Dana Wieck in another comment has it exactly correct. Arizona's ebike law, (which has the standard class 1,2,3 definitions), which is in Title 28, Transportation specifically exempts ebike riders from requiring a Driver's license. An eMTB is an "electric bicycle" so long as it fits the class 1/2/3 rubrick. A sur-ron, e.g. is NOT an electric bicycle; and presumably yes would be (and IMO should be) subject to the new OHV rules.


    links to ebike law here:

  • Bill Wade Bill Wade 3 days ago

    I live in AZ. I don't think you'd find very many LEOs that would pay the slightest attention to kids on e-bikes.

  • ToolGuy I would answer, but the question might change again, and then where would we be? Also, bran... wheat bran? Bran Castle? The coliva served at Bran Castle is made with wheat, I checked. (Some places use rice, because collectivism does not work.)
  • ToolGuy Learn to drive, people.
  • Corey Lewis I saw a TVR Griffith 500 (mfd 1990-2002) back in June 2014 at the Ault Park Concours, in a side parking lot. It had plates on it, but was MUCH too new to be in the US, especially so as the 500 was a later model 1993+. Luckily I took pics as proof!
  • Bd2 This is when BMW started to go downhill design-wise...
  • Jalop1991 "...their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge." Those words, sir, paint a picture.