Rockets like the Haibike e-Road Bike now have a home in California.

California, a state that tends to influence policy and law in many other U.S. states anytime it makes changes, has codified and legalized electric-assist bicycles for use on various paved surfaces.

Depending on how fast the bike’s assistance goes, e-bikes whose motor assistance caps out at 20mph will be allowed on bicycle paths. Those that reach 28mph of assisted pedaling will be allowed on the roads with the same rights and responsibilities as traditional cyclists. That means no more licensing and other restrictions that apply to mopeds and scooters will affect the use of e-bikes. It’s worth noting that local officials will have the final say on which paths will allow which version, but it provides a framework that many other states are likely to adopt in short order.

The bill does nothing to cover e-mountain bikes, and it only mentions to e-bikes with a pedal assist rather than a throttle that keeps you moving without any human powered input. Full PR below…


From People For Bikes: 

On October 7, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1096 (Click the link for the full text of the bill), legislation that clarifies the regulation of electric bicycles (e-bikes) in California. This new law is the result of a coordinated campaign between the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), PeopleForBikes, and the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) to refine how and where cyclists can ride electric bicycles.
Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced the legislation, and played an instrumental role in the bill’s success. A.B. 1096 passed the Legislature with unanimous support in both chambers and takes effect on January 1, 2016.
The legislation updates California law to reflect the progression in technology around electric bicycles. The bill designates three classes of e-bikes and distinguishes lower speed electric bicycles that reach motor-assisted speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, from higher “speed pedelecs” which have motors that provide assistance up to 28 miles per hour. This class system allows the use of lower-speed e-bikes on bicycle paths, and also provides local authorities with the flexibility to regulate different types of e-bikes based on their needs. 
In addition to modernizing e-bike law, with A.B. 1096, e-bikes are no longer regulated like mopeds, and the same rules of the road will apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles. E-bikes are also no longer subject to the registration, licensing, or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
 “The US bicycle industry is very pleased that Governor Brown signed AB 1096 into law,” said Larry Pizzi, Chair of the BPSA’s Electric Bicycle Committee. “We believe that these new regulations will serve as a model for many other states to follow and provide safe and appropriate access to bicycling infrastructure for the wide variety of low-speed electric bicycles that are being marketed today. From the onset of our involvement in drafting the concept for the bill, safety has been our primary concern. With a multi-class structure established, states, municipalities and land management agencies can regulate effectively and clear a path for the proliferation of electric bicycles, which we believe will provide access to bicycling for many more Americans.”
The BPSA and PeopleForBikes are grateful to Assembly member David Chiu for sponsoring this legislation and his staff for successfully shepherding it through the legislature, as well as all of the stakeholders who came together in support of this bill. They would also like to thank the Executive Director of CalBike, Dave Snyder, and the entire CalBike staff for their significant contributions to this effort to get more people riding bicycles.
About PeopleForBikes
PeopleForBikes is making riding better for everyone by uniting millions of individuals, thousands of businesses and hundreds of communities. Join us at PeopleForBikes.org.
About the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association
The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association is an association of suppliers of bicycles, parts, accessories and services that leads industry initiatives in legal and governmental affairs and safety issues, is the leading resource for bicycle statistical data, and provides regular networking and educational forums for members.


  1. thesteve4761 on

    Figures, a heavily populous state, with major legislative influence, would take steps to regulate the use of it’s paths and roadways by vehicles that already exist.

  2. RAB Share on

    This actually looks pretty sensible, especially with regard to the Type 3 E-bikes. I have encountered a few dopes on ebikes blazing down our MUPs around here at 25mph+, and it is frightening to think this trend will only worsen. Question how they will actually enforce these restrictions, though.

  3. DRC on

    @thesteve AGREED! Why do we need laws on this? It’s a damn bicycle that helps you pedal a little bit. I guess that means you can’t operate a pedal bike over 20mph on a bike path in California? So glad I didn’t move there…

  4. Antipodean_eleven on

    @thesteve @DRC, while I’m not in the US (used to be) this is a wise move. I have encountered e-bikes on the roads locally and the speed they can reach is somewhat disturbing. To think of these not being regulated only gets me thinking of all the muppets currently commuting on bikes who can only be regarded as dangerous and reckless now getting on e-bikes that go even faster.

    @DRC, 20miles per hour is about 32kph. I don’t know anyone who can sustain 32kph for more than a short period without the aid of a bunch. Seeing riders of questionable skill, at speed, on bike paths is scary enough. On e-bikes where 20 mph is a no brainer… good luck with that – I’ll happily stick to the roads; at least a car is 1. noisey and 2. big enough that you have a chance of predicting erratic behaviour.

    I am all for e-bikes. They are the best bet to get Joe & Jane Schmoe out of their cars but the fact is they are motorised, can go at a reasonably high speed and can be damn dangerous. As such there needs to be something in place to deal with potential negative outcomes. A free for all is not good for anyone.

  5. Darren on

    I think e-bikes on shared use paths are the issue. The reason I don’t ride on them much going 20+ is sketchy with joggers, little kids on bikes, moms with strollers. Now put that with someone who has not been riding for years, and gun it back to 25mph very fast after passing a pedestrian. I could keep up with one of these clowns, but could not get back up to speed that quick.
    On the Road and in Bike Lanes I am totally for it, and something that does 15mph would be fine.

  6. John on

    “E-bikes are also no longer subject to the registration, licensing, or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.”

    So when an idiot on an ebike sends someone to the ER, we can all be sure they won’t have liability insurance. And the lack of registration means it’ll be easier for them to sneak away.

  7. MB on

    You have to also remember that most paths have a speed limit whether posted or not so you could still get popped if it’s ever enforced regardless of what you’re riding. Out here in Raleigh it’s 15mph. Clearly we break that limit all the time without any e-assist. The folks that set the limit tell us they’re for use by recreational users and anyone “training” or “commuting” should stick to the roads. No thanks.

  8. Speshy on

    This is nothing new. Meth addicts ride these sorts of things all over Arizona. Because they like speed.

    Seriously though, if someone showed up on one of these on a group ride I think they would be told to leave. At least I hope they would.

  9. a on

    As a california bike commuter I wish class 3 and mopeds were forbidden on ANY bike path.
    I can see how they’re allowed given the speed limits of these path.
    The reality though is that no one respects the speed limits and thus….

    – they blast through at 40-50mph since the bike lanes dont have as much traffic as car lanes
    – wave in/out much faster than traffic (lane split, but inside the bike lanes)
    – generally take over inside the lane (which is big enough for about 1 bike, so 2 bikes makes this super close/risky)

    ive had countless near collisions with both class 3 and mopeds since I can’t preemptively avoid them like I do for cars. I’ve seen many get actual collisions (15mph vs 40mph, not nice to see)

    Class 2 being limited at 20mph is a little more than id like but thats, you know, sort of acceptable. Problem is that most are class 3, they’re basically motorbikes.

  10. Bernie on

    Bad idea Moonbeam. I’ve almost been mowed down several times by e-bike riders, both rented and personally owned, on the asphalt trail here in Sacramento. 20mph? More like 30mph+ and not with any cycling skill, also on a much heavier machine. It will be interesting to see how the trail, designed for 15mph, handles 30mph+ morons on out of control boat anchor. I constantly get buzzed by these unskilled wonders while I’m in the bike lane on my short street trip to the trail because they don’t want to be in the street near the cars but they also don’t want to pass slowly or give you any room. Put them out on the surface streets with the cars and make them get a motorcycle license.
    Motor + bike = motorcycle. Moonbeam is SO out of touch with reality, just like all the other politicians.

  11. Mike D on

    Surely there are plenty of people out there who would responsibly use e-bikes, be it recreational or for commuting. However, we always have to play to the lowest common denominator in society, so it’s the bozos that the laws have to account for.

    I’m sure the state and local governments will drag their feet until someone is killed or there is a lawsuit, but maybe there should be some sort of ‘bike license’ for e-bikes, or an endorsement on your driver’s license. I know that’s a slippery slope, but even city cyclists on traditional bikes would benefit from some education. I have people on bikes, skateboards, etc. coming at me in one-way bike lanes almost daily, people riding dead center down mixed-use paths, and the occasional tri-bag doing 20+mph on the aero bars buzzing by on the bike path. I’m not sure what the solution is, but many people would do better with some education of usage rules and traffic laws.

  12. bub on

    Ive yet to see a single class 3 ebike behave properly. A. Single. Bike. Not kidding!
    I commute daily about 10 miles in SF
    Class1/2 are usually okay (and I’m lenient – almost all bikes blast through red lights and other things but at least its more like at 5mph)

  13. ascarlarkinyar on

    Keep e bike off the dirt!!!!!!!

    20mph for bike path? Most bike paths have a 10mph limit. How is this going to work?


  14. Alan on

    Let’s consider how many people own road bikes, with zero handling skills, and are consistently breaking the 10, 12, 15mph limits on bike paths. What about those folks? And seriously, whatever hits you at 15mph is going to hurt just as much as 20mph. We’re not talking HUGE differences in speed. I do realize there’s the few with e-bikes that will pedal them hard, run the assist at full power, and potentially be doing 25mph plus, HOWEVER, there’s plenty of folks on road bikes that do that EVERY DAY on the bike path, and the number of those folks easily outweigh the minimal numbers of e-bikes that have been sold in the US.


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