Where California treads, other states often follow.
Indeed, one recent media article focused upon bicycle-related legislation terms the state “a bellwether for the rest of the country.”
And that’s just fine with bicycle enthusiasts from coast to coast, who voice strong enthusiasm over a statutory enactment that was endorsed recently by California Governor Jerry Brown and is slated to take effect from January 1, 2016.
The new law clarifies how state officials will legally construe so-called “e-bikes,” the shorthand designation for electric bicycles.
Until Assembly Bill 1096 was signed by the governor, those vehicles were undifferentiated from mopeds in the sense that they were construed as motorized conveyances. Such an interpretation imposed licensing and insurance requirements on e-bike owners.
And that created a singular problem, namely this: There is reportedly no office in California — or in any other state, for that matter — that handles e-bike requirements. Categorizing them as mopeds effectively made it impossible to legally own, and thus ride, electric bicycles.
The new law changes that by essentially calling a bike a bike. Three distinct e-bike designations are provided for in the legislation, based on varying speeds and throttle-assist capabilities.
As noted, California’s stance is highly welcomed by the national biking community, with one bike lobbyist stating that, “The U.S. bicycle industry is very pleased.”
The bikes promise to be popular, which will undoubtedly lead to many electric bicycles in motion on sidewalks and streets across California and the rest of the country.
And, while they may be intrinsically safe, their increasing number obviously creates heightened safety risks for riders exposed to motorized traffic.
Hopefully the e-bike experience turns out to be widely popular and without adverse safety implications of any real magnitude.