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California Laws on Electric Bikes

Electric Bike Accidents vs. Motorcycle Accidents

Electric bikes are gaining popularity, especially along the busy streets of Los Angeles. Unlike traditional cycling, these bikes put significantly less strain on your body with a battery-powered motor. Over 437,000 e-bikes sold in 2020, according to The Washington Post. Because there is a higher risk of getting into an accident with e-bike users, we encourage drivers and motorcyclists to be mindful of the information presented in this article.

What Is an Electric Bike?

Each state has a specific definition of what qualifies as an electric bike. Remember that not every bike powered by electricity is considered an e-bike. It might be regarded as a motorized vehicle depending on size and status.

An e-bike is exactly like a standard bicycle. The only difference is that it’s equipped with an electric motor. California Vehicle Code section 406(a) indicates the motor bike must have a power output of 1,000 watts or less. The maximum speed allowed by the motor alone is 20 miles per hour. However, you may go over that speed limit should you manually pedal the e-bike.

Electric Bike Accident Laws California

In California, e-bikes are treated based on how you operate them. A bike accident attorney might apply specific laws and federal regulations to your claim following an accident. As long as an e-bike is used as intended, it will not be considered a motor vehicle under the California Vehicle Code.

Electric bikes are exempt from other laws and requirements such as:

  • Needing an operator’s license
  • State or local registration for the e-bike
  • Having motor vehicle insurance
  • Use of license plates

Riders must be over 16 years old and wear an appropriate helmet.

How Are Electric Bike Accidents Different from Motorcycle Accidents?

The most common difference between bike and motorcycle accidents is the significant contrast in speeds at the time of the accident. With any mode of transportation comes the risk of injury. E-bikes might be smaller and accelerate at a lower rate, but accidents can be just as fatal.

Classes I, II, III

There are three classes of e-bikes: class one, class two, and class three. A bodily injury lawyer from Grey Law can differentiate each in accordance with California laws.

Class 1

Electric bikes that fall into this class operate on the most basic level. The motor only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling, making it easier to keep moving. It will not cause the bike to move by itself.

Class 2

The second class of bikes is known for its throttle. You can increase and control the speed powered by the motor without pedal assistance.

These bikes are also categorized by its travel speed. It typically starts slow and will stop when the motor reaches 20 miles per hour.

Class 3

Electric bikes in the last category will operate at the fastest and highest level. It is most regulated by California Assembly Bill 1096. Motor assistance will continue until the bike reaches 28 miles per hour. Because they’re so powerful, there are more restrictions. It is prohibited on bike paths, bike lanes, hiking, or recreational trails unless that path is:

  • Adjacent to the road
  • Within the road

Protection Against Accidents

There’s nothing wrong with having insurance for your e-bike, though it is not mandatory. It might be in your best interest to have a form of coverage that could support you and the opposing party after an accident involving your e-bike. An attorney is the best resource to discuss your case, as there are special considerations per each e-bike lawsuit.

About Grey Law

“When it comes to getting you more, I won’t settle for less.” – David Grey

When you or a loved one are injured due to negligence, carelessness, or wrongful acts of another person, David Grey is ready to help. Seeking compensation or negotiating with insurance companies can be stressful, especially while recovering. Let us do that for you. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are well-versed in several practice areas:

  • Traffic Accidents
  • Premises Accidents
  • Personal Injuries
  • Product Liability
  • Nursing Home Abuse

Why do you need a lawyer for accident compensation? With thousands of lawyers in California, we understand it can be difficult to choose the right legal representation. We have 35+ years of experience and secured millions for our clients. From the time you retain our firm, we build your case. For a free case evaluation and consultation, reach out to us at (323) 857-9500 or email

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