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California Introduces Bill Mandating E-Bike License

SACRAMENTO, California – Electric bikes, valued for their affordability and environmental friendliness, offer an attractive alternative for young individuals seeking independent mobility. However, they are not without risks, as demonstrated by tragic incidents like the 2021 crash involving two girls riding a Rad Power Bikes e-bike, resulting in one fatality due to brain injuries.

In this context, California is poised to implement new regulations requiring an e-bike license for riders who do not possess a standard driver’s license. The move comes in response to the increasing popularity of e-bikes and a corresponding rise in accidents involving them, echoing the sentiments of last year’s AB 530 legislation.

Assemblymember Tasha Boerner has proposed a bill on February 12th, 2024, aimed at imposing education and licensing prerequisites for young and unlicensed individuals operating electric bikes. Under the proposed law, minors under the age of 12 would be prohibited from riding e-bikes altogether. Those opting to ride without a driver’s license would need to complete an online course and pass a written exam.

Furthermore, riders would be required to obtain a state ID to legally operate an e-bike. Local authorities, favoring statewide regulations over disparate municipal ordinances, have expressed support for this legislative initiative to establish uniformity in restrictions. This stance gains significance in light of recent incidents of fatalities and injuries on local roads, underscoring the urgent need to enhance safety measures.

The proliferation of e-bikes, particularly among teenagers, raises concerns about their familiarity with traffic laws. By targeting this demographic, the proposed law seeks to foster a safer road environment for all users. This initiative forms part of a broader effort to integrate electric bikes into the evolving transportation landscape while addressing the unique challenges they present.

Assemblymember Boerner cited a surge in e-bike sales nationwide and the accompanying rise in injuries as the impetus behind the bill. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reveals 3,945 reported e-bike injuries between 2011 and 2020, with 44% occurring in the 10–13 age bracket. Children under 14 accounted for 72% of all e-bike brain injuries during the study period.

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