Under the law, e-bikes are bicycles and must act like them – Orange County Register - Quick Telecast Under the law, e-bikes are bicycles and must act like them – Orange County Register - Quick Telecast Under the law, e-bikes are bicycles and must act like them – Orange County Register - Quick Telecast

Under the law, e-bikes are bicycles and must act like them – Orange County Register

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Q. I was wondering what the rules are when it comes to electric bicycles. Are they allowed on sidewalks? Can they drive in bike lanes? Are they treated like traditional bikes while on streets or like motorcycles? Unlike traditional bikes, they can move so quickly — it is easily possible to miss them when making a right turn: You look back to see that the street is clear before making a turn, but by the time you make the turn after checking the traffic in front of you, an electric bike could have pulled up on your right.

– Mike Wick, Lake Forest

A. In general, a true e-bike on streets must follow the rules of the road, a term that applies to cars, trucks and motorcycles, too, and stop at red lights, travel in the same direction as traffic, and not blow past the posted speed limit, say on a downhill.

So they can go in bike lanes and, unless a city or county prohibits it, e-bikes can join conventional bikes on sidewalks.

(Local governments can choose to restrict e-bikes, such as keeping them off of certain pathways. They can even choose to prohibit them, according to the California Highway Patrol.)

Sgt. John Hopkins, who supervises the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Traffic Division, said most, if not all of the communities his agency patrols, for example, allow bikes and e-bikes on sidewalks. But, he pointed out, bicyclists should check out a community’s municipal code online to be sure they are OK to travel via sidewalks.

Now, there are three levels of e-bikes, under California law; each type has a motor and pedals. With two of the classes, the rider must be pedaling for the motor to kick in. For one class, the motor works without any pedaling. None of them get help from the motor when going more than 27 mph. For the highest class, the rider must be at least age 16.

Everyone on an e-bike or conventional bicycle under age 18 must wear a helmet.

Now, don’t confuse an e-bike with an electric, off-road “bike” — which can look more like a dirt motorcycle and is illegal on streets and sidewalks. They can go much faster than an e-bike, hitting 40 mph at least.

Sgt. Hopkins says deputies see these off-road bikes about, operated by — yikes — those too young to legally drive. Law enforcement will sometimes cite or even tow them — in part to get parents to talk with deputies. Some parents say their children put pressure on to provide them.

“It’s essentially tossing your car keys to your kid and saying, ‘Have fun,’ ” the sergeant said. “It’s a bad idea.”

In Orange County, the sergeant invites the public to call the Traffic Division at 949-425-1860 for any information regarding e-bikes or the off-road bikes.

“It’s not, ‘I got you,’ it’s, ‘Let’s keep these kids alive,’ ” Hopkins said.

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Q. I was wondering what the rules are when it comes to electric bicycles. Are they allowed on sidewalks? Can they drive in bike lanes? Are they treated like traditional bikes while on streets or like motorcycles? Unlike traditional bikes, they can move so quickly — it is easily possible to miss them when making a right turn: You look back to see that the street is clear before making a turn, but by the time you make the turn after checking the traffic in front of you, an electric bike could have pulled up on your right.

– Mike Wick, Lake Forest

A. In general, a true e-bike on streets must follow the rules of the road, a term that applies to cars, trucks and motorcycles, too, and stop at red lights, travel in the same direction as traffic, and not blow past the posted speed limit, say on a downhill.

So they can go in bike lanes and, unless a city or county prohibits it, e-bikes can join conventional bikes on sidewalks.

(Local governments can choose to restrict e-bikes, such as keeping them off of certain pathways. They can even choose to prohibit them, according to the California Highway Patrol.)

Sgt. John Hopkins, who supervises the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Traffic Division, said most, if not all of the communities his agency patrols, for example, allow bikes and e-bikes on sidewalks. But, he pointed out, bicyclists should check out a community’s municipal code online to be sure they are OK to travel via sidewalks.

Now, there are three levels of e-bikes, under California law; each type has a motor and pedals. With two of the classes, the rider must be pedaling for the motor to kick in. For one class, the motor works without any pedaling. None of them get help from the motor when going more than 27 mph. For the highest class, the rider must be at least age 16.

Everyone on an e-bike or conventional bicycle under age 18 must wear a helmet.

Now, don’t confuse an e-bike with an electric, off-road “bike” — which can look more like a dirt motorcycle and is illegal on streets and sidewalks. They can go much faster than an e-bike, hitting 40 mph at least.

Sgt. Hopkins says deputies see these off-road bikes about, operated by — yikes — those too young to legally drive. Law enforcement will sometimes cite or even tow them — in part to get parents to talk with deputies. Some parents say their children put pressure on to provide them.

“It’s essentially tossing your car keys to your kid and saying, ‘Have fun,’ ” the sergeant said. “It’s a bad idea.”

In Orange County, the sergeant invites the public to call the Traffic Division at 949-425-1860 for any information regarding e-bikes or the off-road bikes.

“It’s not, ‘I got you,’ it’s, ‘Let’s keep these kids alive,’ ” Hopkins said.

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