■Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, D-Encinitas, proposes a bill that would limit e-bike usage for children.
■The bill would require either a driver’s license or testing and a state ID card.
■Children under 12 would not be allowed to ride an e-bike.
A new bill proposed by a southern California legislator would ban the use of e-bikes for children under 12 and require state permission for those over 12.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, D-Encinitas, said her bill is in the name of safety.
“As an avid cyclist and a mother, my goal is to ensure that California’s young riders are educated on the rules of the road to increase their safety and the safety of other road users,” Boerner said in a news release.
Boerner said as more riders are using e-bikes, it leads to more crashes and injuries. Citing a federal survey, children 10-13 years old accounted for 44% of e-bike injuries. A 2023 Surgery Open Science article using the same federal data concluded that youth experience more injuries. Higher speeds, and possibly the lack of helmets, led to more hospitalizations.
Assembly Bill 2234 would not require a license per se, but does mandate that riders without a driver’s license pass a written test and have a state-issued identification card. The bill also strictly outlaws riders under 12 from operating an e-bike.
A similar bill introduced by Boerner last year (AB 530), died because the DMV has a moratorium on changes of licenses until 2030.
E-bikes are divided into three different classes, mainly differentiated by how fast the vehicle can travel. Class 3 e-bikes are the fastest class, traveling up to 28 miles per hour. State law already prohibits those under 16 from operating a Class 3 e-bike.
E-Bike Maker Has Mixed Feelings
William Klehm, chairman and CEO of Austin, Texas-based e-bike maker eBliss Global, says there should be an age limit on who can use e-bikes.
“These things are quickly becoming not toys, but becoming transportation,” Klehm said. “I like the 16-year-old, kind of a limit for that. I think some of the other attributes of some of the bills are a little more problematic. You know, I’m trying to figure out how you police a 12-year-old. I just think that’s hard.”
His company requires e-bike purchasers to be at least 16 and buy a helmet.
Klem says he doesn’t “see much utility” in policing e-bikes for 12-year-olds, or those without a driver’s license.
“Trying to have them take tests and carry a carry a certificate, I just think you’re going to you’re going to need a whole new department. California, I think, has plenty of departments already,” Klehm said.
The bill, introduced last week, will be assigned to committee(s) by March 10.