Governor Signs Bill to Improve E-Bike Access


Contact:  Dave Snyder, Executive Director, California Bicycle Coalition, (916)251-9433
Judson True, Office of Assemblymember David Chiu, 606-3524


Governor Brown Signs Bill to Improve Access for Electric Bicycles

AB 1096 Updates Regulations for Health and Environmentally Friendly Transportation Option


SACRAMENTO – Governor Brown today signed Assembly Bill 1096 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D – San Francisco), which will help foster the use of electric bicycles while ensuring public safety and simplifying enforcement.

“Electric bicycles are poised to become another healthy, environmentally-friendly way to get around for Californians,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Modernizing laws around e-bikes will help us encourage their safe use by new and experienced bicyclists. We appreciate Governor Brown’s signature on this bill.”

“We’ve met countless customers who have given up their car for a bike thanks to their new electric bike. There’s no doubt that electric bikes are an important part of California’s transportation future, and we needed this update to the regulations to make sure e-bikes could play their part,” said  Karen Wiener of the New Wheel, an electric bicycle shop in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

AB 1096 updates California regulations regarding electric bicycles to reflect advances in technology that make modern electric bicycles operate just like regular bicycles,except that they are easier to pedal. Current regulations treat these bikes like mopeds, presenting a barrier to their wider adoption by the public.

Electric bicycles are an important tool to help Californians turn to bicycling for some of their trips; they are becoming increasingly popular around the world and in California. Electric bikes benefit people new to cycling who may be discouraged from riding a traditional bicycle due to limited physical fitness, age, disability or convenience. They are especially important for senior citizens, parents with children, people with disabilities, and people whose trips involve steep hills or whose work commutes are within the 5-20 mile range and who traditionally drive.

“Bicycling is great for our state’s economy, for our residents’ health, and for our communities’ prosperity. E-bikes make bicycling more accessible to Californians so they’re an important part of that solution,” said Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, the bill’s sponsor.

Electric bikes use green battery technology and can be an important addition to California’s growing energy-efficient transportation system. These quiet and low-speed transportation devices also benefit small business owners by providing a cost-effective alternative to cars and trucks when used for equipment transport and deliveries.

AB 1096 clarifies the definition of electric motor-assisted bicycles by defining three specific classes of e-bikes: bikes with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that must be pedaled to operate; those with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that can be operated without pedaling; and bikes with a top assisted speed of 28 mph. By regulating these bikes differently than mopeds, AB 1096 will enable a reexamination of the access restrictions imposed on users of these bikes in order to permit more access to bicycle paths, where appropriate and safe.

By eliminating ambiguity in the regulations, AB 1096 will abet the fast-growing electric bike industry in California, where the headquarters of the largest national companies are located. Clarifying the definition of and updating the regulations around low-speed electric bicycles is critical to the expansion of their use by Californians, and therefore important to the goals of enabling more bicycling for the health, safety, and prosperity of all Californians.

Assemblymember David Chiu (D – San Francisco) is the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly and represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco.

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