California Riders: Please support AB-1096

Bill :
Contact your senator:
Current Status: Passed State Assembly, currently under consideration by the State Senate
Gist (quoted from discussion at endless-sphere):
California: AB-1096 to classify an "electric bicycle"

(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)by mrbill » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:08 pm


About a year ago I posted that the California State Legislature was considering a bill to classify an electric bicycle (e-bike).


That bill was truncated in committee and most of the changes it proposed did not become law. This year Assembly Bill 1096 (AB-1096) has been introduced to classify e-bikes under law.

Even though this is an international forum, I believe this bill will be of interest to other USians, or other jurisdictions, especially those that have poorly-defined regulations with respect to e-bikes. The saying "As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.", may be appropriate here.

E-bikes currently fall under regulations for "motorized bicycles" (CVC 406). That law is outdated, incomplete, and reflects neither the current reality of e-bikes that are or will soon be offered commercially nor where many e-bikers, especially newcomers to the activity, will initially ride their e-bikes.

Although AB-1096 as currently amended is not quite what I would have written, it is much improved over last year's effort. ... 0160AB1096

The Good:

1) E-bikes are classified as bicycles under law (CVC 21200), except where otherwise regulated. E-bikes no longer fall under CVC 406 and are no longer treated as "motorized bicycles". This allows e-bikes to be ridden on recreational trails and paths by default instead of being banned by default. This is the most critical and positive change to the current law.

2) No weight limit.

The Not So Bad:

1) Motor power limit has been reduced from 1000 watts to 750 watts. Although the proposed changes do not specify input or output power, I suspect "brake power" (output) is intended, not input power.

2) No throttle use is allowed for Class 1 or Class 3 e-bikes. Throttle use up to a low speed should be allowed for Class 1 or Class 3 e-bikes to assist when starting on an incline, or to help riders who suffer physical infirmity that makes an initial push-off physically difficult. I am told by those closer to the process that disallowing throttles on Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes was critical to getting buy-in from other stakeholders but that low-speed throttle use could be added as an amendment later.

3) Riders of Class 3 e-bikes must be age 14 or older.

4) Riders of Class 3 e-bikes must wear a bicycle helmet (ASTM or CPSC standard).

5) Class 3 e-bike top assisted speed is limited to 28 mph (45 kph). Since mopeds are limited to 30 mph (48 kph), I guess they can't have e-bikes that go faster. I'd prefer a higher top speed, but I can live with this.

My objections to this bill are far outweighed by the positive change of classifying e-bikes as bicycles instead of motorized bicycles as the former designation allows their operators to ride upon trails and paths.

If you live in California and you wish to support this bill, it may be helpful to send a message to your local Assembly member. It's probably best not to send quibbles. Too many of those, and the bill may die as it did last year, leaving us with the current inadequate law on e-bikes.

Contact Page for AB-1096 Author, David Chiu:
(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Contact Page for Transportation Committee Chair, Jim Frazier:
(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Find your Assembly Member Page:
Bill Bushnell
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Still includes the throttle superstition that makes a 40 lb 250W bike with a throttle a motorcycle but a 70 lb 750W bike without a throttle a bicycle. Please don't support illogic and insanity.
Still includes the throttle superstition that makes a 40 lb 250W bike with a throttle a motorcycle but a 70 lb 750W bike without a throttle a bicycle. Please don't support illogic and insanity.
This bill allows electric bike access to all public bike paths by default, instead of prohibition by default. Is it sane to let 'perfect' be the enemy of huge progress?
If California prohibits ebikes on bike paths by default, it has much less effect on ebike riders elsewhere than this kind of insane classifications, which manufacturers are going to have to pander to.

When one state bans this feature on bikes and another state that one and some states ban something else and Europe bans and restricts all kinds of things and ebike manufacturers design bikes to the lowest common denominator, soon the only ebikes available from mainstream manufacturers have 5W tire rubbing motors powered by D batteries.
I have a throttle, never use it, and would gladly accept some somewhat imperfect limitations upon it to gain legal access to a massive number of existing trails. There is nothing to say the law could not be further improved now or later.