E-bikes Can Now Ride Trails in California?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum E-bikes Can Now Ride Trails in California?

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    • #176430

      This week the CA governor signed new legislation regarding e-bikes (details: http://www.bicycleretailer.com/north-america/2015/10/08/california-governor-signs-law-modernizing-e-bike-regulations#.VhgNto9VhBc).

      Here are the takeaways that are important to MTB:

      • The law defines 3 classes of e-bikes: Class 1 is pedal assist up to 20mph, Class 2 is a bike with a throttle (also up to 20mph), and Class 3 is a pedal assist bike that can go up to 28mph.
      • Class 1 and 2 e-bike are allowed to go anywhere regular bikes can go.
      • Class 3 bikes are restricted to roadways and bike paths, trails and bikeways that are adjacent to roadways.”

      It’s interesting to note that other states often look to CA when it comes to regulation so it seems this may make it easier for other states to legislate similar definitions for e-bikes.

      Not sure how “adjacent” to roadways a trail will need to be for Class 3 bikes but even the fact that these will be allowed on some trails is a surprise to me.

       

    • #176432

      Wow, this is really interesting! However, since this is a California law, it seems like it would only apply to state and local land (county, city, etc.), and not to Federal land–correct? So, you might soon see an ebike at China Camp State Park, but not on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

      Update: also spotted this in the article:

      Local governments have the authority to restrict access on paths, trails, bikeways or bike lanes by ordinance.” So by default, they’re allowed, but local governments or land managers could still ban them.

    • #176433

      Right, that’s my understanding. So state parks are included but I would also imagine county open spaces, city parks, etc. would also fall under this (unless they have their own legislation regarding e-bikes.)

      Then again, sometimes states do their own thing and say screw the federal law (seems like there’s a law in CO that does this 🙂 ).

    • #176434

      “seems like there’s a law in CO that does this”

      Lol, yeah, there’s that!

      Also, you’re right: based on the article, it sounds like local agencies and land managers could still restrict ebike access further “by ordinance,” but by default they are now allowed.

    • #176450

      Well, once it’s implemented and the bikes are out there, discussions by the Strava competitors are going to get A LOT more interesting.

    • #176534

      I hadn’t even thought of that. This could RUIN Strava!

    • #176837

      Here’s the entire bill:
      This is the only part that matters: “<span id=”digesttext”>The bill would prohibit the operation of a class 3 electric bicycle on specified paths, lanes, or trails, unless that operation is authorized by a local ordinance. The bill would also authorize a local authority or governing body to prohibit, by ordinance, the operation of class 1 or class 2 electric bicycles on specified paths or trails.”
      In other words, all existing bans on motorized vehicles on dirt trails in state and county parks are still in effect.

      AB 1096, Chiu. Vehicles: electric bicycles.

      Existing law defines a “motorized bicycle” or a “moped” as a 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and motor, as specified.
      Existing law also defines a “motorized bicycle” as a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that meets specified requirements. Existing law requires a motorized bicycle, as described by this definition, to comply with specified equipment and manufacturing requirements. Existing law also imposes specified requirements relating to the operation of bicycles. A violation of the Vehicle Code is a crime.
      This bill would delete the latter definition of a “motorized bicycle.” The bill would define an “electric bicycle” as a bicycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, and would create 3 classes of electric bicycles, as specified. The bill would require manufacturers or distributors of electric bicycles to affix a label to each electric bicycle that describes its classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage. The bill would require every electric bicycle manufacturer to certify that it complies with specified equipment and manufacturing requirements. The bill would also require an electric bicycle to operate in a manner so that the electric motor disengages or stops functioning when brakes are applied, or in a manner so that the release or activation of a switch or other mechanism disengages or stops the electric motor from functioning.

      The bill would require a person riding an electric bicycle to comply with the above-described requirements relating to the operation of bicycles. The bill would prohibit persons under 16 years of age from operating a class 3 electric bicycle. The bill would also require persons operating, or riding upon, a class 3 electric bicycle to wear a helmet, as specified. The bill would prohibit the operation of a class 3 electric bicycle on specified paths, lanes, or trails, unless that operation is authorized by a local ordinance. The bill would also authorize a local authority or governing body to prohibit, by ordinance, the operation of class 1 or class 2 electric bicycles on specified paths or trails. The bill would prohibit a person from tampering with or modifying an electric bicycle to change its speed capability, unless he or she appropriately replaces the classification label. The bill would specify that a person operating an electric bicycle is not subject to financial responsibility, driver’s license, registration, or license plate requirements. The bill would also make conforming changes.</div>
      <div style=”margin: 0 0 1em 0;”>This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 21113 of the Vehicle Code proposed by AB 604 that would become operative only if this bill and AB 604 are both chaptered, and this bill is chaptered last.

      Because the bill would create new requirements regarding electric bicycles, the violation of which would be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
      The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
      This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
      The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

      Section 312.5 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:

      (a) An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.
      (1) A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
      (2) A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
      (3) A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.
      (b) A person riding an electric bicycle, as defined in this section, is subject to Article 4 (commencing with Section 21200) of Chapter 1 of Division 11.
      (c) On and after January 1, 2017, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed, in a prominent location, to each electric bicycle. The label shall contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle, and shall be printed in Arial font in at least 9-point type.

      Section 406 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

      (a) A “motorized bicycle” or “moped” is a two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and a motor that produces less than 4 gross brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
      (b) Every manufacturer of a motorized bicycle or moped, as defined in this section, shall provide a disclosure to buyers that advises buyers that their existing insurance policies may not provide coverage for these bicycles and that they should contact their insurance company or insurance agent to determine if coverage is provided. The disclosure shall meet both of the following requirements:
      (1) The disclosure shall be printed in not less than 14-point boldface type on a single sheet of paper that contains no information other than the disclosure.
      (2) The disclosure shall include the following language in capital letters:

      • #176894

        In other words, all existing bans on motorized vehicles on dirt trails in state and county parks are still in effect.

        If you’re talking about Class 3 e-bikes then yes, that’s true. But most e-mountain bikes fall into Class 1 (very few I’ve seen are even Class 2) and this bill allows them anywhere a bicycle is currently allowed.

        It’s also true that local authorities may ban e-bikes from specific trails but until they do, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed. Not sure about state parks… since they’re not under local authority (my understanding is they are under the state) they can’t ban Class 1 and 2 e-bikes from trails. So, e-bikes at China Camp?

    • #176907

      So, e-bikes at China Camp?

      Braap Braap!!

    • #176908

      PS, Jeff’s thoughts about different types of ebikes seems right on the money to me. I’ve only ever seen type 1 ebikes in real life before. I’ve seen 2 and 3 in a few videos, but that’s the extent of it.

    • #176913

      So one thing I’m not clear on is how these e-bike speed limiters work. Would a Class 1 or 2 e-bike slow you down if you were  completely coasting down a really steep hill? Or does it just cut the juice, so to speak, at speeds in excess of 20mph, letting gravity take its course?

    • #176952

      State and county parks already ban the use of motorized vehicles/bikes through ordinances. This does not override those ordinances. It only allows them where ordinances do not currently exist.

    • #176986

      Based on my reading of the article, it seems like this redefines type 1 and type 2 ebikes as nomotorized vehicles–as bicycles. So, consequently it seems like they wouldn’t be banned by such ordinances, but rather that new ordinances would need to be made to specifically ban ebikes.

      Edit: here’s the key part:

      The bill would also authorize a local authority or governing body to prohibit, by ordinance, the operation of class 1 or class 2 electric bicycles on specified paths or trails.

      They’re defining these things (class 1 and 2) as decided NOT a motorized vehicle… that’s the important distinction that they’re trying to make.

      Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to categorize a vehicle with an electric motor as a bicycle, but that seems to be what’s just happened here.

      In response to Jeff, it doesn’t have any braking mechanism to slow your speed when descending, so yes–gravity just takes over. However, I haven’t gotten one on a long enough or steep enough hill to push the speedometer much past 20 yet. You’d think that having a heavier vehicle would help it descend faster, but it’s actually pretty difficult to then pedal it up much faster than where the limiter stops. So, you’d need a legitimate mountain with a relatively straight trail or road to really test out what sort of descending speeds you could achieve.

    • #177038

      This doesn’t really surprise me.  Our policies always seem to go towards inclusion, no matter the cost.  It will be interesting to see if we see any of these bikes on the trail.  To this point, I’ve never seen any.

    • #177077

      What Cost?

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