Orange County Enforces New E-Bike Regulations to Enhance Safety


Orange County is implementing new regulations to curb the unregulated use of electric bikes (e-bikes) and ensure the safety of both riders and pedestrians. The Board of Supervisors approved these measures last week, aiming to address growing concerns about e-bike safety, as reported by LAist.

The new regulations categorize e-bikes into three classes, each with specific rules:

  • Class 1 E-bikes: Provide pedal assist up to 20 mph.
  • Class 2 E-bikes: Self-propelling bikes that can reach up to 20 mph without pedaling.
  • Class 3 E-bikes: Provide pedal assist up to 28 mph.

Class 3 e-bikes face the strictest regulations. Riders under the age of 16 are prohibited from operating them, though they are permitted to use Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes. Additionally, all Class 3 e-bike users must wear helmets on roads, bikeways, and trails.

The new rules also require e-bike riders to yield to pedestrians and equestrians on sidewalks and prohibit riding more than two abreast on roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Furthermore, the ordinance bans multiple riders on a single bike, except for tandem bicycles or small children with their own seats.

The introduction of these regulations is in response to increasing concerns about e-bike safety. Incidents involving e-bikes have highlighted the need for stricter control. For example, in a recent incident in neighboring L.A. County, an e-biker launched a live firework into a crowd at Hermosa Beach Pier, resulting in several minor injuries.

Supervisor Katrina Foley explained the necessity of the new rules, noting a significant rise in injuries and complaints about groups of e-bike riders causing disturbances and accidents in parks. "We have seen an increase in injuries and complaints about groups of kids riding their e-bikes recklessly, causing safety issues for pedestrians and pets," she said. "This ordinance gives our park rangers the tools to enforce safe riding practices."

These regulations apply to all unincorporated areas of Orange County, as well as county-managed parks, bike paths, and roads. Individual cities within the county may have their own regulations that take precedence over county rules.

With these new measures, Orange County aims to create a safer environment for all residents and visitors, balancing the benefits of e-bikes with the need for responsible and regulated use.

Author: Benjamin Dai

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