Electric Bike Safety

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are more popular than ever and allow people of many ages and abilities to enjoy cycling with assistance from an electric motor. There are many styles of e-bikes – from cargo e-bikes to beach cruisers to mountain bikes – and the riding possibilities are endless.  

As e-bike popularity continues to increase, education about e-bike safety is of paramount importance. Please familiarize yourself and your children with the rules of the road, e-bike specifics and safety topics below to keep Solana Beach safe and e-bike accident-free! 

What qualifies as an e-bike? 

An e-bike is an electric bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. 

  • The same rules of the road that apply to human-powered bicycles apply to all types of e-bikes and human-powered bicycles. 
  • Electric bicycles do not need registration, licensing or insurance like a car or motorcycle. 
E-bike Classifications

California designates three classes of electric bicycles. Knowing the class of your electric bicycle will tell you where and how you can ride.

Class 1: pedal-assisted e-bike 

  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.
  • Equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.
  • Power maxes out at 20 mph.

Class 2: throttle-assisted e-bike

  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.
  • Equipped with a throttle-actuated motor.
  • Power maxes out at 20 mph.

Class 3: pedal-assisted e-bike

  • Allowed in bike lanes or separated bikeways adjacent to the roadway.
  • Not allowed on trails. Riders must be 16 years old and all ages must wear a helmet.
  • Power maxes out at 28 mph. Any e-bike that can go over 28 mph is not street legal.
  • Equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.
Rules of the Road

Bicyclists and e-bike riders are subject to all the same rules of the road as motorists. Riders who don’t follow the rules are subject to ticketing and fines as defined by the Vehicle or Municipal Code.

Make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Riders 17 years and under must wear a helmet.
  • Traffic lights, signs and signals apply to all road users, including e-bike riders.
  • Cyclists must ride to the right edge of the road as practical. If you're riding slower than traffic, ride in the bike lane. You can leave the bike lane to turn left, pass someone, avoid a road hazard or avoid cars turning right.
  • Sidewalks and cross walks are meant for pedestrians. Dismount and walk your e-bike in these areas. You must stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.
  • Do not attach a bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device to any moving vehicle or motorized or non-motorized wheeled device with an operator or rider on board.
  • Be aware of other road users and try to match the average speed. This means riding slowly in areas with pedestrians.
  • Must stop at red lights.
  • Must stop before right turn at red lights.
  • Must stop at stop signs.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic is prohibited.
  • Riding against the flow of traffic is prohibited.
  • Proper reflective equipment must be used (during night operation).
  • When a bicycle lane is available, bicyclists are required to use the bike lane unless they are traveling as fast as traffic.
  • It is illegal to carry passengers on your e-bike unless your bike has an extra permanent seat or when using a child safety seat.
  • The "sharrow" symbol below means the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to share safely side by side. Bicyclists should discourage unsafe passing by riding towards the middle of this narrow lane. Bicyclists have a right to the road, even if no sharrow is present. 
Passengers

Most e-bikes are not equipped to carry passengers.

  • E-bikes can only transport passengers if there is a designated spot for passengers and transportation can be carried out safely.
  • Passengers are required to wear a helmet if they are under 18.
  • Class 3 e-bike riders must not transport passengers.
Visibility
  • Wear high-visibility clothing. Being seen is essential.
  • Use a white front light, red rear light and reflectors.
Safety

E-bikes are lucrative targets for thieves. Take every precaution to ensure that your e-bike is safe. 

  • When done using your bike, put it away - inside if possible and out of site.
  • When out and about on your bike, always lock it securely and keep an eye on it.
  • Use a good lock. Make sure your lock has a high-security rating and learn to use it wisely. Where to lock it? Look for something totally immovable that can't be cut.
  • How to lock it? Lock at the lowest point possible between bike frame and the locking object or cycle stand. This makes access and leverage points harder for thieves. Lock the frame and one wheel to the stand.
  • If you have parts or components that are easily removed, take them with you.
Snap shot of Fines Associated with Violations

A snapshot of fines associated with violations is below. The actual fine does not include approximately $300 dollars in additional court fees. 

  • DUI Bike, 21200.5 CVC, $250 
  • Disobey Traffic Control Device, 21200(a) CVC, $25 
  • Helmet Required, 21212(a) CVC, $25 
  • Red Light, 21453(a) CVC, $100 
  • Allowing Improper Passenger, 21712 CVC, $35 
  • Stop Sign, 22450(a) CVC, $100 
  • Cell Phone Use, 23123(a) CVC, $20 
  • Drive on Sidewalk, 21663 CVC, $35 
  • Unsafe Lane Change, 21658 CVC, $35 
  • Wrong Way, 21657 CVC, $35 
  • Yield Ped in X-Walk, 21462 CVC, $35 
  • Improper Lanes (bike lane), 21655 CVC, $35 

 

For more information, please refer to the Superior Court of California County of San Diego Bail Schedule

 

California Vehicle Codes

An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts <312.5. (a)>.

(1) A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.

(2) A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.

(3) A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.

(b) A person riding an electric bicycle, as defined in this section, is subject to Article 4 (commencing with Section 21200) of Chapter 1 of Division 11.

(c) On and after January 1, 2017, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed, in a prominent location, to each electric bicycle. The label shall contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle, and shall be printed in Arial font in at least 9-point type.

E-bike rules

Class 1 Bike Paths are for the exclusive use of cyclists and pedestrians and are off main roads. Probably the most famous Class 1 Bike Paths are paved roads in nature areas. Only Types 1 and 2 e-bikes can go on Class 1 Bike Paths.

Class 2 Bike Lanes are the protected one-way bike lanes you see on various streets and highways. You will be able to see lines on the ground designating a Class 2 Bike Lane. All three e-bikes are allowed to use Class 2 Bike Lanes.

Class 3 Bikeways are on roadways, but they don’t have any special markings on the road and can be used by motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. Usually Class 3 Bikeways are designated with a sign. Class 3 Bikeways are split into 3A and 3B, where 3A refers to shared lanes on arterial or parallel streets and 3B refers to bikeways in residential areas. All three e-bikes are allowed on Class 3 B

Class 4 Bikeways are like Class 2 Bikeways, but they are protected from vehicular traffic with either a space or barrier such as curbs, a parking lane, or a sidewalk. Sometimes people refer to these lanes as “cycle tracks.” Only Types 1 and 2 e-bikes can use these lanes.

CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTIONS

21207.5. (a) A motorized bicycle or class 3 electric bicycle shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation.

21213. (a) A person under 16 years of age shall not operate a class 3 electric bicycle.

(b) A person shall not operate a class 3 electric bicycle, or ride upon a class 3 electric bicycle as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail, unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This helmet requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a class 3 electric bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.

21211 Bike path obstruction: No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path.

21212(a) A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is at21651.

21651 (b) It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon a highway, except to the right of an intermittent barrier or a dividing section which separates two or more opposing lanes of traffic. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), a violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor.

10.56.010 (CMC) Riding on sidewalks and public facilities. No person shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk, in any public drainage facility, culvert, ditch, or channel; or any other public athletic/sports courts, or gymnasiums in the city. Law enforcement personnel shall be exempt from the provision of this section when in the performance of their duties. (Ord. CS-139 § 1, 2011; Ord. NS-151 § 1, 1991; Ord. 3062 § 8). (Look at 21663 CVC as well)

21453(a) Red traffic light.

22450(a) Stop sign.

21461(a) Railroad crossing, must stop active signal device “R/R Crossing.”

22451(a) Railroad crossing must stop for active signal device w/ train approaching and horn.

22100(a) Right turn from improper position.

22107 Unsafe movement, to the left or right.

More Information