SAN DIEGO — A bill moving through the California legislature could tighten the rules on electric bikes and make it illegal for people under a certain age to ride them.
If Assembly Bill 530 is put into law as it’s written, it would prohibit people under 12 years old to ride e-bikes, it would require an online written test and a state-issued identification for riders who do not have a driver’s license.
The bill also would establish an e-bike training program and would work with several organizations including the DMV and California Highway Patrol.
“It’s long, long overdue,” said Bob Cosgrove who works in Encinitas. He says he sees young kids riding their e-bikes daily, some which concern him.
“A lot of kids just ride those recklessly, many of them don’t have helmets on, and it’s concerning, now they have an increased speed to some degree, it can cause accidents, obviously,” Cosgrove said.
He is in favor of the crackdown on e-bike riders.
“I think it’s a great idea because you’re not going to see these e-bikes go away, and it will just be a reminder to everyone what their responsibility,” Cosgrove added. “It should probably be 16, I don’t know, I’m really for safety, I do want kids to be out and free riding out on e-bikes, but there has to be safety involved in it.”
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, who represents the 77th District, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and the coastal communities of La Jolla south to downtown and Coronado.
An emergency was declared in Encinitas over the rise in e-bike crashes, following the death of a 15-year-old in June.
There’s been two recent e-bike deaths in her district, including a teenager who died in Encinitas while riding his e-bike in June, and a mother who died while riding an e-bike with her daughter in a safety seat in Carlsbad in 2022.
“As a mother and a legislator, I believe that we must act to prevent our youth from injuries and educate parents on the promise and responsibility of e-bikes, and AB 530 is another step to increase their safety while sharing the road,” Boerner said in a statement.
“They definitely need to have training, some form of formal state training,” said Niko Sougia, who owns Charlie’s Electric Bike store in Encinitas. He said he’s been pushing for more education, only rents to riders over the age of 18, and said he recently stopped selling an e-bike that is typically purchased for younger children.
“I didn’t want to put youth out on the street when they required to know the rules of the road,” Sougias said.
The bill is soon set to go to a committee.