When I wrote about test riding a Pedego electric bike earlier this year, I mentioned a trip along the Santa Ana River bike path to the beach—oblivious to the fact that state law did not allow electrics on all paths.
That changes on Friday—Jan. 1—when California Assembly Bill 1096 goes into effect.
Irvine-based Pedego, which bills itself as the world’s premier electric bicycle brand, joined PeopleForBikes, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) in campaigning for the bill, which essentially calls for electric bikes to be regulated similar to conventional bicycles.
“We consider this a big win for electric bikes and for our Pedego owners in particular,” said Don DiCostanzo, the company's CEO. “Pedego riders can rest assured that they're welcome on California bike paths and can continue to enjoy the fun, exercise and ability to commute on California’s thousands of miles of bike paths.”
Envisioned as a model for other states to follow, the new law aims to clarify vague California's regulations that failed to legitimize electric bicycles on all types of bike paths, according to Pedego, which offers this break down of the paths “Type 2” designed bikes like electrics will be able to follow:
· Class 1 Bike Paths: Paved bicycle paths removed from streets and traffic.
· Class 2 Bike Lanes: Delineated bike lanes on paved streets.
· Class 3 Bike Routes: Recommended bicycle routes on certain streets, sometimes offering enhanced safety and signal features.
· Class 4 Protected Lanes: Also called “cycle tracks,” barrier-protected bikeways providing safe passage on higher-speed roads and highways
The new law does stipulate that as of Jan. 1, 2017, electric bikes must have a specific type of permanently affixed sticker that clearly shows their Type 2 designations, something Pedego says it will roll out with new bikes. In the meantime, free stickers will be offered to existing Pedego owners, who can pick them up from California dealerships.
“We went to Matthew Harper, our local state Assembly member, to discuss the conflict between state/local laws and national laws regarding the use of electric bikes on bike paths,” DiCostanzo explained. “Matthew helped us get legislation passed in Sacramento that clarifies that electric bikes are permissible on California’s bike paths.”
“This opens up the bike paths officially to riders who might not have been able to enjoy cycling in the past,” said Harper (R-Huntington Beach). “We're overjoyed to see California take this step toward equal access for all bicycle riders, electric or not.”
Of course, as the former mayor of Huntington Beach, Harper may know a thing or three about how popular electric bikes have become. When I was on that bike ride on the loaned Pedego, the most e-bicycles I passed were in Surf City.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.