Over the past several years, electric bikes have seen a huge spike in popularity. According to a report by NPD Group, revenue from e-bike sales grew by 47% in the 12-month period between September 2020 and October 2021.
Motorized bicycles make it easier for people of all fitness levels to enjoy cycling. For many, they are also a practical commute alternative, especially in dense urban areas. However, e-bikes also pose unique risks and responsibilities for riders in terms of both their own safety and the safety of others.
Operating an electric bike
E-bikes are both faster and often significantly heavier than regular bicycles. Even a seasoned cyclist may face a bit of a learning curve. However, it is especially important that less experienced riders take the time to practice handling the bike and learning its features in a safe, low- or no-traffic area before trusting themselves to the open road.
Following California law
Under California law, an electric bike is a bicycle that has functional pedals and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts. In general, e-bike riders must follow the same state laws as other bicyclists. However, a person must be at least 16 to operate a Class 3 e-bike on a public bike or roadway.
Knowing local ordinances
Municipalities may have their own rules about how and where people can ride electric bikes, especially more powerful Class 3 bicycles. Riders should make sure they know their local ordinances.
With such a rapid increase in new e-bike ridership, there are bound to be future changes to both local and state laws as well as safety guidelines. However, the basics still apply for both cyclists and drivers: know and follow the rules of the road, stay visible and stay alert for all types of traffic.