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California Electric Bike Laws

September 04, 2019
California Electric Bike Laws
California Electric Bike Laws

Electric bikes have long been a favorite mode of transportation for those living in Europe, and their popularity is gaining traction here in the U.S. as well. Thanks to a 2015 bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the California ebike is gaining widespread popularity in the Golden State. Stay on the right side of the law—and the road—with this overview of e bike laws in California.

What Is An Electric Bike?

The mechanics of bicycle riding are easy to understand. Simply put, pushing down on the pedals with your feet turns the wheels, which propel you forward. E-bikes have an electric motor, which can be located in either wheel hub or even on the frame. The motor does the job of spinning the wheels, depending on whether the bike is electric-only, pedal-assisted or pedal-only. The best electric bikes for you will depend on where you want to ride.

3 Types of Ebikes

California electric bike laws distinguish between three classes of bicycles, based on their speed capabilities and whether they are pedal-operated. Here’s a breakdown of each category:

  • Type I: This e-bike is pedal operated and can reach speeds up to 20 mph assisted by a motor. When the rider stops pedaling, the motor-assistance stops, as it also ends when the bike hits its maximum speed. Riders can use Type 1 e-bikes on any paved surface where regular bikes are allowed.
  • Type 2: This style is not operated by pedal, with the motor providing all the power. Its top speed is 20 mph, and it’s legal to ride on the same paved surfaces as regular bikes.
  • Type 3: The third type is pedal-operated, with the motor helping to power it up to the speed of 28 mph. Only those 16 and older can ride this type, which is banned from regular bike paths unless specifically allowed in local ordinances.

The state does not require riders to have a special license, and the bike does not need to be registered or licensed. E bike laws also do not require riders to carry insurance.

Rules of the Road

Like other bicyclists, e-bike riders must obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles by stopping for traffic lights and stop signs, and yielding the right-of-way. Additional requirements include:

  • Those younger than 18 must wear a helmet while on public roads
  • Riders must use hands-free devices to maintain control over the bike
  • Bicyclists cannot operate e-bikes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • All bikes must have functioning brakes

Riders may be subject to fines of up to $250 for bikes without working brakes or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For those between 13 and 21, violations will result in having their driving privileges delayed or suspended for one year.

Get a Custom Fit

Womens electric bikes, as well as those for men, are available in different styles and a range of colors, and can be customized to fit each rider. Now that you know the rules of the road, enjoy cruising around your city with the vehicle that gives you the best seat in the house—your California ebike.

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