Lawmakers look to limit the sale of speed-increasing e-bike tools

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents |

E-bikes have been the focus of much policy discussion in California in recent years. There have been several attempts to require licenses for younger riders. Lawmakers have also tried to encourage adults in particular to turn to e-bikes as an alternative means of transportation that can cut down on costs and also environmental impact.

While e-bikes are convenient and cost-effective, they can also be somewhat dangerous. The faster that people travel on e-bikes, the greater the risk. High-speed e-bikes could cause devastating injuries to other cyclists or to pedestrians. Those riding at higher speeds are at risk of greater injury should they end up in a crash. State lawmakers might soon vote on a bill that aims to keep e-bike speeds reasonable.

What lawmakers have proposed

California currently classifies e-bikes based on the top speed that they can sustain. Class 1 and 2 bicycles cannot travel at speeds higher than 20 miler per hour (mph), and Class 3 bicycles should not exceed 28 mph. Some people try to use small electric motorcycles like e-bikes, but they are capable of far higher speeds. Other people intentionally alter their e-bikes to increase their maximum speed.

There are devices that people can purchase and use to increase the top speeds of their e-bike. California lawmakers aim to prevent the sale and use of such devices. California Assembly Bill 1774 aims to limit the sale of devices that bypass manufacturers’ internal speed limits for e-bikes.

The general assembly is yet to vote on the proposed Bill, but the experts already not that the proposal has major gaps. It doesn’t address how easy it is for people to follow directions to modify their e-bikes without a special tool. Some people worry that regulations micro-managing the use or modification of private property could be a dangerous slippery slope.

Given the gaps in the law, it may not have the profound impact that lawmakers hope to achieve. E-bike collisions and bicycle crashes in general are likely to remain a major safety concern for riders and drivers in California.

Those involved in bicycle collisions caused by e-bikes or while riding e-bikes may need assistance sticking compensation afterward. Riders who comply with the law strengthen their own position when seeking compensation from others who cause preventable collisions.