Electric Bicycle Laws in California

-Posted On April 15, 2023 In Bikes and California Law-

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have become increasingly popular over the years, especially in California. With the rise in e-bike usage, it’s essential to understand the laws and regulations that apply to them so that you can stay safe on the road. 

What Is an Electric Bike under California Law?

According to the California Vehicle Code, electric bicycles are conventional bicycles with a motor that is less than 750 watts and has a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. If an electric bike exceeds these specifications, it is classified as a moped or motorcycle rather than a bicycle.

There are three types of electric bicycles:

  • Class 1 electric bicycles are the lowest class of e-bike and only receive assistance from a motor when the rider is pedaling.
  • Class 2 electric bicycles have a throttle, which allows the rider to control the speed of the bike and has a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.
  • Class 3 electric bicycles are high-speed e-bikes that have a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour.

Do You Need a License, Insurance, or Registration for an Electric Bike?

In California, electric bikes do not require a driver’s license, registration, or insurance, unlike motorcycles or cars. However, riders must be at least 16 years old to legally operate one of these bicycles.

What Rules of the Road Apply to Electric Bikes in California?

Electric bikes must follow the same rules of the road as traditional bicycles, such as obeying traffic signals and stopping at stop signs. They are allowed to ride on the road, but they cannot ride on a dedicated bike path unless the path runs next to a roadway or explicitly allows motorized bicycles.

Cyclists must ride electric bikes as far to the right of the road as possible. When making a turn, they also need to use hand signals or mechanical signals installed on the e-bike to warn other road users of their intent. 

Do You Need to Wear a Helmet When Riding an Electric Bike?

Under California law, all electric bicycle users must wear a helmet if they are under the age of 17. Although the law does not require adult users to wear helmets, doing so can go a long way in preventing serious head injuries in an accident. To protect yourself, always wear a well-fitting, highly-rated helmet whenever you take an electric bike out on the road.

Are Electric Bicyclists Eligible for Compensation After a Road Accident?

Road accidents can happen at any time, in any place, and on any type of bicycle. If you are injured in a collision while riding an electric bike, you do have the right to pursue financial compensation—as long as someone else was at fault. 

California is a fault accident state that requires negligent drivers to pay for any damages that occur in a collision that they cause. Victims, including other drivers, passengers, and cyclists, have the right to pursue insurance claims or lawsuits against these motorists. By filing a claim, you can recover compensation to pay for medical care, lost wages, and more.

After a collision, it is important to consult with a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can assess your case and help you identify your optimal path to financial recovery. Schedule a free legal consultation after your accident to learn more about your legal options. 

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