Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced the introduction of Senate Bill (SB) 381, which would authorize a study on best practices for improving the safety and use of electric bicycles and similar types of vehicles.
Since the pandemic, e-bike sales have soared to record levels in the United States, a trend that is incredibly important for reducing carbon emissions generated by traditional gasoline-powered automobiles. However, the surge in popularity for e-bikes has also led to a rise in injuries, accidents, emergency room visits, and deaths among e-bike riders as well as riders of traditional bikes and pedestrians, as a growing body of research shows. There has not yet been a major change in statewide safety standards beyond age restrictions and helmet requirements, leaving local municipalities with limited options to protect the safety of their residents.
Under this measure, the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University would develop a report and submit it to the Legislature, providing evidence-based recommendations for future laws or regulatory changes governing the use of e-bikes, manufacturing data, mandatory safety accessories, and rules of the road.
“As a proud owner and rider of an electric scooter myself, I am cognizant of how convenient e-bikes are, and also how important they will be for reducing carbon emissions,” Min said. “But the rise of popularity in e-bikes also creates new challenges, which require us to rethink the rules in place to keep our roads safe. The Mineta Transportation Institute is a respected authority that will be able to study the new safety challenges posed by e-bicycles, and offer concrete solutions to reduce accidents, emergency room visits, and preventable deaths. Thank you to the many community stakeholders and cities in Orange County, including the Cities of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Irvine, who have raised this important issue to the attention of my office. It is imperative that we get this right for e-bike enthusiasts of all ages, and also for the local communities looking to the state for guidance.”
“I want to commend Senator Min for introducing SB 381. E-bikes are here to stay and their popularity is on the rise. It is critical, however, that thoughtful legislation be enacted to improve e-bike safety,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “SB 381 will promote the research and analysis needed to develop future legislation and e-bike safety regulations. E-bike safety for riders and pedestrians is a big concern and I know that Senator Min’s decision to move forward with this bill will be much appreciated by his constituents. I intend to do whatever I can to support Senator Min in his efforts to have SB 381 approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.”
“As a coastal city, e-bikes are a natural fit to Huntington Beach. But with a new modality comes concerns from our community about e-bike safety,”said Huntington Beach Councilmember Dan Kalmick. “Gathering safety information and best practices about e-bikes from countries like Denmark and the Netherlands who have large e-bike usage, will promote better public policy for all Californians.”
“The popularity of e-bikes has been on the rise, as have concerns about pedestrian and biker safety,” said Huntington Beach Councilmember Natalie Moser. “Senator Min’s proposal is a welcome step in addressing these concerns so that we can all safely benefit from this alternative mode of transportation.”
Existing law defines an electric bicycle to mean a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, and subjects a person riding an e-bike to provisions of law governing the operation of a bicycle.