Rules of the Road: AB 1096 Regulates E-Bikes in California
Updated: Mar 16
Of all traffic-related deaths that occurred in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 2.2 percent of them were bicyclists. This is one of many reasons why California electric bike law has been clarified, amended, and adapted in order to minimize the number of collisions or other accidents on the road that could potentially lead to tragedy. The AB-1096 Bill sets up specific rules and regulation for the operation of e-bikes within the State of California.
3 Classes of Electric Bicycles
First, these regulations specify that an “electric bicycle” is equipped with a motor of less than 750 watts as well as fully operational pedals for the purpose of human propulsion (CA Vehicle Code 312.5 (a)).
The previously mentioned bill establishes three (3) classes of electric bicycle, based on the speed of the bike and the level of pedal assistance received by the electric motor.
A Class 1 electric bike is also known as a “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle.” This is an electric bicycle which receives assistance from a motor, but only when the rider is pedaling.
A Class 2 electric bicycle constitutes what is called a “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle.” This bike does not necessarily need assistance from human propulsion by the pedals; the motor is capable of propelling the vehicle on its own. Both class 1 and class 2 electric bikes stop receiving assistance from the motor once they have reached a speed of 20 miles per hour.
A Class 3 electric bicycle is also called a “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle.” This is classified in AB-1096 as an electric bike that receives assistance from a motor only when pedaling, and whose motor stops assisting after the bike is going at least 28 miles per hour. The operation of class 3 electric bicycles shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation 21207.5.(a).
There are several other regulations for the operation and manufacturing of e-bikes in California, which are set up by the AB-1096 bill, as well. For instance, it is illegal to operate or ride on a class 3 electric bike at under 16 years of age. It is also unlawful to tamper with or alter an electric bicycle’s motor in any way that causes an increase in speed capabilities without replacing the label on the bike which specifies such information. Remember, just like regular bicycles, E-bikes should NOT be ridden on sidewalks or pedestrian pathways. Furthermore, bicycle manufacturers, such as E-Lux Electric Bikes, must label all bikes with the top speed at which the motor provides assistance, classification number, and motor wattage. In California, ebikes do not require DMV authorization, a driver’s licenses, registration, or license plate requirements as an electric bicycle is not a motor vehicle per CVC 24016(b).
The information presented above should be helpful in better understanding California electric bike law per AB-1096. For more information on high-quality electric bicycles, visit the E-Lux Electric Bikes website. or call: (949) 440-1967