The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration do not consider low-speed electric bicycles to be motor vehicles. Rather, they treat them the same as traditional bicycles. Below is a breakdown of electric bicycle laws in California and San Diego specifically.
The California Vehicle Code identifies an electric bicycle as a “motorized bicycle,” recognizing two types:
Two or three wheels
A motor with less than two horsepower and a maximum speed of 30 mph
An automatic transmission
An electric motor
Fully operative pedals, or no pedals if the bicycle is solely powered by an electric motor
Fully operative pedals that cannot move the bicycle faster than 20 mph
An electric motor with a power output of no more than 1,000 watts that cannot move the bicycle faster than 20 mph
California law requires motorized bicycle operators to follow the same road rules as bicycles. Although people who ride a motorized bicycle need to have a license or M2 endorsement, they are required to wear a bicycle helmet (not a motorcycle helmet) and be at least 16 years old. Motorized bicycles are allowed to ride in bike lanes when available, if authorized locally.
With far less metal around them than motorists have, those who ride any type of bike are substantially more exposed to danger. One of our previous clients sustained serious injuries when the driver of a car made a right turn and cut him off. He rolled onto her hood, down the bumper, and onto the asphalt. His motorized bicycle ended up under the car. These and other scenarios are all too common, and tragically, they can change someone’s life.
If another person’s carelessness on the road led you to sustain injuries, our attorneys can help. Contact CaseyGerry to schedule a confidential consultation.