Electric Bike Laws in California – Rules and Restrictions(2022)

Are there electric bike laws in California? This is one of the most common questions asked in travel forums by tourists. Many visitors don’t want to violate the state rules and restrictions regarding e-biking. California is among the new states to recognize electric bikes in the country. The state has some rules and restrictions that help govern electric bikes operation. Any violation might land an individual into problems with city or local authorities.

I wrote this article to educate you on some of these e-bike laws in California. Take the time to read through to discover the advantages and disadvantages of electric bike laws in California.

What Is the Definition of Electric Bike In California State?

An electric bike is a conventional bicycle with operable pedals and an electric motor that does not exceed 750 watts.  It must also not exceed 28mph on leveled ground. The e-bike motor must cease to function when brakes are applied. The e-bike law prohibits users from modifying electric bicycles to change the speed limit. The California state defines electric bikes into three-tier classifications. Class 1 consists of e-bikes with operational pedals and an electric motor of 20mph top speed assists.

Electric Bike In California State

Class 2 comprises electric bikes that offer electric power regardless of whether the rider is pedaling or not. The electric motor should provide a speed that does not exceed 20mph. Class 3 is for electric bikes that provide a top speed of 28mph. The e-bikes in this class have low pedal speed assist. The electric motor ceases to function when 28mph speed is reached.

Rules of Riding on the Road in California State

According to California House Bill No. 1096, e-bikes operators have some legal rights and restrictions as other regular cyclists. Electric bike riders should follow all road rules in California. Adhere to passenger rights, speed limits, and passing other vehicles with precautions. The e-bike owners do not need a license or driver’s license to operate it. Keep in mind that class 1 and 2 e-bikes have no minimum age requirements.

Electric Bike Laws in California

A class 3 operator will need a license and must be 16 years old or above. A helmet is a mandatory safety requirement for class 3. Teens under 18 years also need helmets to ride classes 1 and 2. E-bikes operators causing a nuisance on the road might find themselves in trouble with the city or local authorities. Always follow the rules and regulations to have fun while e-biking in the state.

Advantages of California E-Bike Laws
  • The State of California appreciates technological advancement in the automobile industry. The e-bike laws help promotes road safety for all users. It helps minimize the road carnage rates.
  • Another vital advantage is to give pedestrians the right way and respect their rights to road usage. Some e-bike operators can cause a nuisance on the sidewalks.
  • The e-bike laws also uphold road traffic rules and regulations. All the cyclists need to follow the speed limits and pass other vehicles safely on the road.
  • The electric bike rules and regulations instill disciple among the cyclists. Any violation will result in traffic tickets in the long run.

Disadvantage of California E-Bike Laws
  • California e-bike laws do not make it mandatory for operators to acquire the motorist insurance policy. Many riders experience injuries from truck or van drivers without an injury liability policy.
  • E-bike laws encourage operators to ride on the road. The rules have resulted in heavy traffic on city roads in California.
  • Besides that, the cities municipalities have a huge budget for sidewalks construction for electric bikes and pedestrians.
  • The California e-bike laws prohibit the user from accessing certain areas in the national parks. The lack of e-bike parking spots makes things more challenging in the state.

California State Electric Bike Laws FAQs

Do you need an E-bike license, insurance or registration in California?

Electric bike operators do not need a license plate or license to ride them. Registration is also not required to own and ride e-bikes. An insurance policy is not mandatory though it is necessary for self-protection. The ride will get compensated if the truck or van driver does not have a bodily liability policy.

What are the restrictions on Motor power or throttle in California?

The electric bike motor power should be less than 750 watts with a 20mph top speed limit. If the motor power and speed exceed the requirement, the e-bike will enter another category. The e-bike operator will have to seek for registration, license and license plate if the bicycle exceeds the category requirements.

Are there any age restrictions to riding an electric bike in California?

No. Classes 1 and 2 e-bikes have no minimum age requirements. But e-bikes class 3 has a minimum age of 16 and above. Besides that, the operator of a class 3 e-bike must have a driver’s license. Type 1 and 2 has no license requirement since they are operated by even minors.

What are the laws around helmets in California?

The California e-bike laws require anyone less than 18 years to wear a helmet on classes 1 and 2 electric bikes. Class 3 riders must wear helmets regardless of age to enhance self-protection. Helmets are part and parcel of self-protection when riding e-bikes. It is a traffic violation to ride an electric bike without a helmet in California.

Do you need a license to drive an electric bike in California?

No. Electric bikes are exempted from DL and registration requirements in California.

Can you ride an electric bike on the sidewalk in California?

Yes. Some cities and local authorities have assigned sidewalks for riding electric bicycles and regular bicycles.

Disclaimer

Electric bike laws and policies in California are vulnerable to changes. These changes make the above information outdated and non-applicable. We recommend checking the state, county, city, and local agencies more often on recent e-bike laws in the country.

You can see other USA state Laws:

Summary

E-bikes laws in California classify them as regular bicycles. The operators have the same legal rights and obligations as conventional bicycle riders. The electric motor power assists when pedaling the bicycle. But the motor power should be less than 750 watts with a speed limit of 20mph.

Always keep checking the laws and policies regarding e-bikes in California. The habit will help you avoid traffic and cities violations. Have a joyful e-biking experience!

Resource

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/motorcycle-handbook/two-wheel-vehicle-operation/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws
https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/state-electric-bicycle-laws-a-legislative-primer.aspx

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