As more and more people realize the benefits of commuting via electric bicycle, the enforcement of these two-wheelers must be taken seriously. Indeed, nearly all countries in the world have one form of legislation or another governing the use of electric bikes – some stricter than others. In Europe, only pedal-assist bikes with nominal outputs lower than 250 watts can be ridden license-free.
In the US, meanwhile, things are much more relaxed. Yes, there’s a tiering system when it comes to e-bikes, but enforcement isn’t as strict, and higher power e-bikes can easily slip under the radar of officers, especially those with an untrained eye when it comes to electric bicycles. Nevertheless, the influx of high-powered e-bikes, especially from Chinese manufacturers that offer them cheap and fast, is a matter of growing concern.
In California, for example, police departments are now mobilizing, cracking down on the illegal e-bikes, as well as those being ridden in a reckless manner. A recent story from Electrek highlights an incident at Newport Beach, wherein police on horseback issued a citation to an e-bike rider using a Sur Ron electric motorbike on the street. In this case, the Sur Ron isn’t exactly an e-bike, as it doesn’t have pedals, but rather, more of a little electric dirt bike that isn’t legal for street use as it has a top speed of 45 miles per hour, and a power output peaking at 6,000 watts – several times higher than the usually accepted 750 watts
Meanwhile, in Huntington Beach, police have been receiving numerous reports of accidents involving the high speed operation of electric bicycles. Authorities have reported that injuries are usually much worse than regular bicycles, as e-bikes are faster, heavier, and most of the time, riders are novices with little to no riding experience and lacking any safety gear whatsoever.
A report by ABC7 highlights the growing concern of the local police department. Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Thoby Archer stated in the article, “When they do ultimately get in accidents, we see greater injury because they're going faster with heavier bikes, and a lot of times e-bikes have opened up this world to people that aren't maybe the most comfortable cyclists, and they go faster than they really should be riding on bikes."
Archer further stated that new e-bike riders, kids in particular, may not be familiar with the rules of the road, and as such are much more likely to get into accidents. Apart from cracking down on the illegal use of e-bikes, the Huntington Beach Police Department is also reportedly educating the public about the dangers of improper e-bike use, as well as providing safety tips when it comes to the use of personal electric mobility devices.