As most of you in the community have probably noticed, electric bikes (or e-bikes) have become a common site in our neighborhoods and on our major roadways. E-bikes are quickly becoming the “vehicle of choice” for thousands of Californians who are discovering the health benefits of bicycling while helping to reduce the environmental impact of our state’s transportation system. E-bikes benefit people new to cycling who may be discouraged from riding a traditional bicycle due to limited physical fitness, age, disability or convenience. They are often a “gateway” to fully self-propelled bicycling. E-bikes are especially important for senior citizens, parents with children, people with disabilities, and people whose trips involve steep hills or whose work commutes are within the 5-20 mile range and who traditionally drive.
E-bikes use green battery technology and are an important addition to California’s growing energy-efficient transportation system. However, with the proliferation of e-bikes in the community, safety concerns and rules of the road are becoming front and center and many complaints have come from the community regarding the legal and proper use of these e-bikes. Many of the new users include the younger generation that may not have sufficient experience or knowledge of the rules of the road (many are not old enough to have driver’s licenses and have yet to learn the applicable motor vehicle laws).
In California, bike riders are subject to many of the laws applicable to the driver of a vehicle which, simply put, means bikes must follow the rules of the road. Below are some of the main California Vehicle Codes (CVC) that bicyclists must follow.
21650 CVC – Cyclists must ride in the same direction of traffic
21202(a) CVC – Cyclists must ride to the right edge of road as practical
21201(d) CVC – Proper reflective equipment be used (applies during night operation)
21212(a) CVC – Helmets are required for those under 18 years of age
21204 CVC – It is illegal to carry passengers on your bicycle unless your bike has an extra permanent seat or when using a child safety seat
21453(a) CVC – Cyclists must stop at a red light
21453(b) CVC – Cyclists must stop before right turn on red light
22450(a) CVC – Cyclists stop at a stop sign
Assembly Bill 1096 (AB 1096) clarified the definition of electric motor-assisted bicycles by defining three specific classes of e-bikes: bikes with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that must be pedaled to operate; those with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that can be operated without pedaling; and bikes with a top assisted speed of 28 mph. The links below provide a very useful overview and clarification of the rules of e-bikes based on their specific classes. The City strongly encourages everyone to review this information if you own or use an e-bike and to please review these carefully with your children that use e-bikes throughout the community. The City strongly supports alternative modes of transportation and getting more people out of their cars, however, public safety is of utmost importance!
Please be great neighbors and do your part to maintain the harmony of this great community. There are so many benefits of e-bikes and alternative modes of transportation on our environment and quality of life. If everyone would comply with the regulations and keep safety as the top priority, everyone wins!
New E-Bike Laws Info For Riders