California could soon change e-bike rules for young riders

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents |

People often talk about e-bikes as an alternative to larger vehicles. Discussions about those using e-bikes for transportation often focus on adults and the ability to reduce how much they spend on transportation. However, there is little question that youthful cyclists also enjoy riding e-bikes. Unfortunately, many minors who ride e-bikes do not necessarily understand the rules of the road. Even if they do understand the rules, in theory, they may not have the necessary experience to follow them confidently and consistently.

Traveling at faster speeds makes it easier for teens on e-bikes to injure others and put themselves in harm’s way. Many of the worst e-bike collisions that occur involve underage riders. Recently, a state lawmaker proposed a change to California state statutes that might help protect younger cyclists by requiring training.

What lawmakers suggest

E-bikes have been a hot topic among lawmakers in California in recent years. Much of the focus has been on financial incentives for ownership and proper rules for companies operating rental fleets of e-bikes. There haven’t been any major rules put in place about operating e-bikes on public roads.

Currently, essentially anyone can operate an e-bike in California. That could potentially change if a new bill introduced in the State Assembly becomes law. The current language of the bill prohibits children under the age of 10 from writing e-bikes in any circumstance. Children over the age of 12 either need a driver’s license or proof that they took an e-bike safety course and state-issued identification.

Effectively, the new bill would create an e-bike licensing system to ensure that those not yet old enough to legally drive larger motor vehicles don’t go out on the roads while unfamiliar with traffic rules. Although the goal behind the proposed legislation is to protect children from severe collisions, there are concerns about some of the rules proposed.

Some cycling advocates do oppose the new bill and believe it would pose an undue burden on many families across the state. However, others point out how some of the high-profile fatal incidents in recent years involving e-bikes as evidence that such restrictions could serve the public good. For the time being, young adults can continue to ride e-bikes without taking any special steps, but that could soon change.