Are Electric Bikes Allowed on Mackinac Island?

Are Electric Bikes Allowed on Mackinac Island
Are Electric Bikes Allowed on Mackinac Island

If you’ve ever heard about Mackinac Island, it’s likely you know about its unique approach to transportation. Nestled in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas, this island resort community has become renowned for its ban on almost all motor vehicles. But, Are electric bikes allowed on Mackinac Island? Let’s delve into the details.

An Island Steeped in History

Mackinac Island spans just 4.35 square miles but carries a big cultural and historical significance. With its Victorian charm, the island is a step back in time, offering visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The island’s no-car rule dates back to the late 19th century when the then-newfangled automobiles were deemed too disturbing to the island’s peace and tranquility.

Over a century later, this ban still stands, and transportation on the island is largely limited to three types: walking, bicycling, and horse-drawn carriages. This unique restriction contributes significantly to the island’s appeal, creating an atmosphere that’s rare in our fast-paced, motorized world.

The Status of Electric Bikes on Mackinac Island

So, where do electric bikes fit into this picture? In the past, the island’s policy towards electric bikes was unclear, with different interpretations leading to confusion among visitors and residents. However, as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, electric bikes have been permitted on Mackinac Island.

In October 2018, the Mackinac Island City Council voted to allow the use of electric bikes on the island. This decision followed the State of Michigan’s passing of legislation that reclassified electric bicycles, creating three classes based on their top assisted speed and whether the electric motor assists while pedaling or can power the bike independently.

Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes, which have a top assisted speed of 20 mph and require the rider to pedal (Class 1) or not (Class 2), were allowed on the island. However, Class 3 e-bikes, which can assist riders up to 28 mph, remained prohibited. This legislation was consistent with the island’s overall approach of maintaining a peaceful, leisurely pace for all travelers.

Enjoying Mackinac Island With Your Electric Bike

With e-bikes permitted on Mackinac Island, they’ve added a new dimension to exploring this charming locale. Electric bikes make it easier to explore the island’s many attractions, especially for those who might find the island’s hilly terrain challenging.

Whether you’re visiting historic sites like Fort Mackinac and the Grand Hotel, exploring natural attractions like Arch Rock and British Landing, or simply enjoying a leisurely ride along the eight-mile perimeter road, an electric bike can make your Mackinac Island experience more enjoyable and less strenuous.

When riding your e-bike on the island, remember to respect the same rules that apply to traditional bicycles. Stay on designated roads and paths, yield to pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles, and most importantly, maintain a speed that ensures safety and respects the island’s tranquil ambiance.

Renting Electric Bikes on the Island

If you don’t own an e-bike, or you prefer to travel light, there are several bike rental shops on Mackinac Island that offer electric bikes for rent. They provide an excellent opportunity to try out e-biking and see if it might be a good fit for you.


Mackinac Island offers a unique experience, a place where the hectic pace of modern life gives way to leisurely strolls, bicycle rides, and horse-drawn carriage trips. Electric bikes, fitting right in with this relaxed mode of life, provide an accessible and enjoyable way to take in the island’s many sights.

However, it’s essential to remember that, while e-bikes are allowed on Mackinac Island, this permission is granted with the expectation that riders will respect the island’s peaceful atmosphere and unique way of life. Speeding down the island’s streets or paths is frowned upon, whether on an e-bike or a regular bicycle. The emphasis is on enjoying the journey, not racing to the destination.