Is it legal for someone to drive an e-bike in a bike lane?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2022 | Bicycle Accidents |

E-bikes have become a source of concern for many cyclists in California. They have made many drivers warier of everyone on a two-wheeled vehicle and may take up the secure parking options, like bike racks, at popular entertainment venues and local businesses.

Despite being a source of frustration for many, e-bikes continue to proliferate. Many people don’t understand how e-bikes make use of California’s roads and safety infrastructure. Do e-bikes, which technically have motors, get to drive in the designated bike lanes intended to keep those on self-propelled Vehicles safer in traffic?

Yes, some e-bikes can ride in some bike lane

Although it may seem counterintuitive to those powering their bicycles with their own bodies, California expects most e-bikes to share many of the same spaces as traditional bicycles. On public roads, for example, e-bikes should travel on paved bike lanes rather than on sidewalks.

There is some nuance to this general rule, however. E-bikes capable of traveling at speeds of over 20 miles per hour should not travel in bike lanes or on designated bike paths. Class 1 bike paths are limited to e-bikes that do not exceed 20 mph when powered by the motor.

Tourists and teenagers on e-bikes will potentially dominate bike lanes in popular areas, making cyclists feel like they have no place safe to ride.

How can cyclists respond to e-bikes in bike lanes?

As with any other motor vehicle, the presence of e-bikes on public roads will require more vigilance and care on the part of cyclists. E-bikes may have tourists or unlicensed writers operating them, which means the rider won’t be aware of all traffic laws.

Additionally, they may not have any motor vehicle insurance. A cyclist hurt by someone on an e-bike could be left in a very precarious position, which means that cyclists may need to treat them as particularly dangerous obstructions on the road. Giving them more space and assuming that their riders will do irresponsible or unpredictable things could help those on self-propelled bikes avoid crashes with e-bikes.

Keeping apprised of the changing safety concerns for cyclists and the newest causes of biking collisions can help those who cycle for fun or exercise in California.