A new California bill aims to better protect children by keeping them off of electric bicycles. The proposed legislation is also intended to make sure bicyclists know about the dangers of riding on an electric bike before they start pedaling away.
A New Minimum Age for California E-Bike Riders
Assembly Bill 530 sets out to change the minimum age of e-bike riders. Children under 12 years old would be prohibited from using any class of e-bicycle in California.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, representing parts of San Diego County, came up with the public safety initiatives after several fatal e-bike accidents in the communities she serves. The shock and grief these accidents caused led to the introduction of Assembly Bill 530 in the summer of 2023.
Right now, children are allowed on electric bikes as long as they aren’t Class III bicycles. Class III is the most powerful e-bike allowed in California. The engine can assist riders in reaching a speed of 28 mph. At this moment, riders must be 16 years old or older to ride a Class III e-bike.
Class I and II only provide pedal assistance up to 20 mph. These classes of electric bikes are legal for children to ride at the moment. Parents should also remember that children 17 years old and younger must have a helmet on while on a bicycle or e-bike.
New Education Requirements for California E-Bike Riders
Besides keeping children off of e-bikes, Assemblymember Boerner also hopes to increase the knowledge riders carry with them before they pedal off.
Many people think that riding an e-bike is about the same as riding a normal bicycle, but that’s not true. New riders may not be prepared for the quick acceleration and top speeds of electric-powered bicycles.
If Assembly Bill 530 is passed, riders would be required to take an online education program and take a test on what they’ve learned. Completion would be required before a California rider could get on an e-bike.
A New Identification Requirement for California E-Bicyclists
Beyond age limits and education requirements, Assembly Bill 530 would call for new identification measures for electric bicycle riders. Riders would need to carry proof of a California driver’s license or another state-approved form of I-D.
The bill also lays the groundwork for the creation of a committee to determine the most effective implementation of these proposals. The workgroup would rely on the input of The California Highway Patrol, the California DMV, and members of the bicycling community.
Timetable for New Electric Bicycle Bill
Analysts don’t expect Assembly Bill 530 to be ready for passage during the next legislative session beginning mid-August 2023. The bill is expected to be discussed and modified in committee and be ready for 2024 consideration.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner said in a release that her bill is the beginning of a conversation. “As a mother and a legislator, I believe that we must act to prevent our youth from injuries and educate parents on the promise and responsibility of e-bikes, and AB 530 is another step to increase their safety while sharing the road.” She went on to emphasize, “It will be a long process, and AB 530 is a critical starting point that we’ll continue to work to develop through meetings with stakeholders this fall.”