Electric bicycles have enjoyed immense popularity overseas in Europe and China, but the idea is only now catching on here in the United States.
Estimates on annual U.S. sales range from 50,000 to 175,000, and major bicycle manufacturers have developed their own line of electric bikes. Electric bicycles use an electricity-powered motor to move the bike forward, but the motor can be switched off in some models.
Although electric bicycles cannot travel above 20 mph while powered by the motor, states such as New York have banned them and others have placed restrictions on modifications.
Electric bikes face few bans in California, and state law recognizes them as conventional bicycles. However, there are specific restrictions that separate regular and electric bicycles apart. Cyclists under the age of 16 are not allowed to use electric bicycles, and all people riding them must wear a helmet.
As of two weeks ago, the California Assembly has introduced legislation that would further regulate electric bicycles.
What are the Benefits of Electric Bicycles?
Some people might want to take up cycling as a hobby, but may be unable to. One electric bicycle manufacturer noted that most of his customers are aging baby boomers who gave up on cycling because of hills. Electric bicycles might also allow disabled or injured cyclists with limited mobility to ride again.
In addition to the elderly and disabled, electric bicycles could be used to introduce people to cycling that might not want to take up the hobby for exercise.
This introductory blog post to electric bicycles should give our readers a general idea of what they are and how they work in the state of California. We will continue to update our blog as new technology and laws affect cycling in our state.
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Dudek Law Firm, APC – San Diego Bicycle Accident Attorney