What is an ebike?
An e-bike is a bicycle with electric motor to assist the rider by moving faster and with less effort than a traditional bicycle. They are ridden much like a mechanical bicycle and come in many styles, from commuter bikes to full-suspension mountain bikes to cargo models for local delivery.
An e-bike motor works by automatically engaging an electric motor when riding. The motor senses how much power is being applied into the pedals (using a torque sensor), and responds proportionally (that is, the harder one pedals, the more the motor engages).
Is an ebike a motor vehicle, a bicycle, or something else?
California established new legislation for eBikes in 2015, classifying them into three categories. The categorizations are based on where they may be ridden and how they are treated legally. Are e-bike riders required to comply with the laws that apply to motorists or bicycle riders? For the most part, e-bikes are treated as traditional bicycles when they have a motor power less than 750 watts.
AB 1096: Electric Bicycles
California adopted guidance from the National Electric Vehicle Safety Standard (NFPA) which establishes electric bicycles as those with pedal-powered movement and an electric motor power rating of less than 750 watts. It also creates three classes of electric bicycles, ranging from 1 to 3 mph, depending on the speed of the electric motor and the amount of assistance provided.
While CA State AB1096 established a state-level framework, local jurisdictions (city, county) may have different laws for electric bikes. A local jurisdiction may enact an ordinance to allow or restrict electric bike usage for their area that may differ from the State of California. (Source: https://catc.ca.gov/-/media/ctc-media/documents/tab-26-4-5-presentation-a11y.pdf)
Class 1 eBike
A Class 1 eBike, or low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycles, is equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph. These e-bikes are legal on any paved surface that a regular bike is allowed to operate.
Class 2 eBike
Class 2 eBikes, or low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle, are equipped with motors that can exclusively propel the bicycle, but that cannot provide assistance when the bike reaches 20 mph. These e-bikes are legal on any paved surface that a regular bike is allowed to operate.
Class 3 eBike
A Class 3 eBike, or speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle, is equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 28 mph. Class 3 e-bikes are prohibited from Class 1 multi-use bike paths unless specifically allowed by a local ordinance. Operators of Class 3 e-bikes must be 16 or older and wear a helmet.
What should you do if you are involved in an accident involving an ebike?
Speaking with an experienced attorney is an important first step to knowing your options. Since ebikes are relatively new, there is uncertainty regarding the regulations that apply to e-bike riders in California.
The expert staff at Harsh Law can assist you with your injury claims if you’ve been involved in an accident with an e-bike. Harsh Law offers a comprehensive understanding of the legal claims regarding ebikes and how to help you obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
For a free consultation, contact Harsh Law today at (909) 793-6261 or fill out the contact form on this website.