Major changes may be coming for e-bike riders in California. Those changes would alter who can rent and ride electric bicycles.
A bill to be considered in the California legislature changes the age limit for riding the most powerful e-bikes. It would also require riders to have more education for people before they hop on.
California’s New E-Bike Bill
Assembly Bill 530 was written by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner. She represents the 77th District which includes coastal communities of San Diego County like Carlsbad and Encinitas.
Boerner was moved to take action after recent e-bike fatalities in her community. FOX5-TV reported on a mother who was killed in a traffic collision while riding with her daughter in a safety seat in Carlsbad in August 2022. That tragedy was followed by an incident in Encinitas in June of this year. An e-bike collision with a car tragically claimed a 15-year-old boy’s life.
Sadly, the occurrence of e-bike injuries and fatalities has steadily grown year-over-year.
Assemblymember Boerner was moved by these heartbreaking cases and others when she proposed a few changes to the existing California Laws governing e-bike usage:
Assembly Bill 530 “This bill would prohibit a person under 12 years of age from operating an electric bicycle of any class. The bill would state the intent of the Legislature to create an e-bike license program with an online written test and a state-issued photo identification for those persons without a valid driver’s license…”
Current California E-Bike Laws and How They Could Change
Here is a look at the current California e-bike laws and the changes that might be coming:
- New age limit on all classes of e-bikes. The bill would not allow riders under 12 years old to use an e-bike of any kind. Currently, you have to be 16 years old or older to ride a class 3 electric bike. Class 3 bikes can provide pedal assistance up to 28 mph. Class 1 and Class 2 bikes don’t reach speeds quite this fast. Right now, those under 16 years old can ride Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes as long as they wear a helmet.
- New education requirements. Legislators along with statewide authorities would create an e-bike online course with a test that all e-bike users would have to complete.
- New I-D Requirements. Riders would have to have a driver’s license or state-issued photo identification.
The bill also seeks to create a workgroup to iron out the details of e-bike training and testing requirements. It would include members of the DMV and CHP and members of bicycle advocacy groups.
Outlook for California Assembly Bill 530 to Change Electric Bicycle Laws
The California Legislature returns from summer recess in the middle of August 2023. It’s expected that the bill will be turned over to a committee to figure out the best ways to implement new safety guidelines. The bill is not expected to be passed this year.
In a statement, Assemblymember Boerner stated her wishes that this bill be the beginning of something bigger. “This takes a real commitment from our communities and our State. It will be a long process, and AB 530 is a critical starting point that we’ll continue to work to develop through meetings with stakeholders this fall.”
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