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E-Bike Safety and Laws

Clubs and Organizations

July 30, 2021

From: City of Solana Beach

As our fun-filled summer continues, and both residents and visitors are out an about, public safety is top of mind. This is especially true for those who own or rent and ride electric bikes (or e-bikes). As many in the community have noticed, e-bikes have become a common sight in our neighborhoods and on our major roadways. And, while e-bikes have a lot of benefits – they’re good for the environment, make it easier for more people to take advantage of bicycling, help reduce the number of cars on the road, and give people of all ages more freedom – they also present significant safety challenges and concerns.

With the proliferation of e-bikes in the community, safety concerns and rules of the road are becoming front and center with many complaints and concerns have been expressed from community members 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. Indeed many are not old enough to have driver’s licenses and have yet to learn the applicable motor vehicle laws.

In California, e-bike riders are subject to many of the laws applicable to the driver of a vehicle which, simply put, means e-bikes are considered vehicles and need to follow the rules of the road. Rules including:

-Stay on the street; e-bikes are not allowed on sidewalks

-Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it

-Come to a complete stop at stop signs and follow right of way rules

-Obey traffic signals

Additional e-bike safety and rules riders and parents should be aware of:

-Parents can be held liable if their kids get into an accident.

-Passengers are only allowed if there is a designated seat on the back of the bike.

-All riders 17 and under must wear helmets. Helmets are recommended for all riders. Head injuries are common in bike accidents, and some riders never fully recover.

-E-bike riders can cross an intersection with traffic or get completely off their bikes and walk across in the crosswalk.

Safety Classes

Some asked about where they could sign up for classes to learn more about the rules of the road. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition offers classes on a wide variety of topics. The Smart Cycling Program is a great opportunity to learn how to ride your bike safely! The next Smart Cycling zoom class is on August 3rd. Here is a link to their website. 

E-bike Safety Video

Check out the e-bike safety video below, which covers general bicycling principles taught in the Smart Cycling classes and covers a diverse range of user types and riding styles.

Electric Bicycle Safety Video