California AB 2234 Seeks Licensing and Safety Courses for E-Bikes
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California AB 2234 Seeks Licensing and Safety Courses for E-Bikes

Aerial image of rider with shadow on pavement in California AB 2234 bill to affect licencing for e-bikes
  • Proposed California bill AB 2234 requires a state-issued ID for all riders 12 and over.
  • If the bill passes, then no one under age 16 could ride a Class 3 e-bike and no one under age 12 could ride any e-bike.
  • The bill’s language also stipulates that anyone riding a Class 3 e-bike, including any passengers, must wear a helmet.

California State Assemblymember Tasha Boerner (D-Encinitas) has announced a new Assembly Bill – AB 2234, which seeks to require all e-bike riders age 12 and over to have either a valid driver’s license or pass a state-mandated skills waiver and have a state-issued identification card.

It also states that no one under 16 years of age may operate a Class 3 e-bike, capable of speeds up to 28 mph. Anyone riding a class 3 e-bike must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. The helmet requirement extends to passengers who ride in a restraining seat or a trailer towed by the bicycle.


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E-Bikes Have Injured Kids

According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were 3,945 e-bike injuries between 2011 and 2020. The e-bike injuries increased over time during the study period, with the 10-13-year-old age group making up 44% of those injuries. Children under the age of 14 made up 72% of e-bike injuries over the study period.

“Owning and riding an e-bike is a big responsibility, and it is crucial that children and their parents understand the liability they take on when they get on an e-bike that can go nearly 30 miles per hour,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner. “As an avid cyclist and a mother, my goal is to ensure that California’s young riders are educated on the rules of the road to increase their safety and the safety of other road users.”


The text of AB 2234 doesn’t say anything about how this will be enforced. Most of the police in Southern California already have enough on their plate without having to catch and cite kids riding e-bikes. If they did start citing kids for this, the big question is: Would the licensing and fines pay for the extra resources this would require? Officers would have to be trained for it and might even need extra equipment.

Also, what about off-road riding, like mountain bikes on trails? The bill doesn’t cover that. The same goes for riding on private land. 

A similar bill was proposed last year, but it failed to make it out of the Assembly. Other countries, like Israel, already have an e-bike license in place. So it does work in some places. But will it work in California?

Here’s another problem; Technically, e-bikes like Stacyc and Super73’s K1d are aimed at younger kids, and I’ve seen families out riding in their neighborhoods and trails together. This builds skills and confidence, and it allows the family and friends of all skill and fitness levels to ride together. I understand the thoughts behind this bill, but I do think it misses that important part.


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The helmet part is great — everyone who rides a bicycle, scooter, Onewheel, etc. should wear a helmet. The requirement for a state-issued ID borders on overreach, though I’m unsure how you would otherwise prove that someone under 16 has taken an e-bike safety course. It would likely have to be able to be kept on their smartphone, as my own kid is loath to take anything but her phone with her anywhere.

I’m definitely not against people taking a training course before buying and riding an e-bike. Most e-bike owners aren’t avid cyclists and are less aware of the intricacies and nuances of riding in traffic or general e-bike safety

I’ve reached out to Assemblymember Boerner for comment but have not yet heard back.

AB 2234 goes before the assembly March 10, 2024. 


New E-Bike Insurance Bill Proposed in New Jersey

It looks like New Jersey is trying to pass a bill that will require e-bike and e-scooter riders to register their bikes and carry liability insurance. Bill S2292 is being discussed now. It would charge $8 for the initial registration. It will require $15,000 in coverage for plans that had been issued prior to Jan. 1, 2023, and a really convoluted breakdown that ends with $70,000 for plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2026, exclusive of interest and costs, on account of injury to or death of more than one person, in any one accident.

I really think the people making bills like these are out of touch with the people they represent. It creates a further barrier to entry, more red tape, and more expense. With the global push toward cutting down on greenhouse gasses, wouldn’t it make more sense to incentivize e-bikes? Most car trips are local, and many are within a mile. E-bikes are far better in every way for this.


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IMAGES: TONY DONALDSON

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AUTHOR: 

TONY DONALDSON

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