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Guest Blog: New California e-Bike Law Does Not Pertain to Trails

Guest Blog: New California e-Bike Law Does Not Pertain to Trails

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Posted: December 17, 2015

— Guest blogger Morgan Lommele is the E-Bike Campaigns Manager for the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and PeopleForBikes

A California law that legalizes the use of electric bicycles on most California bikeways (Assembly Bill 1096) does not pertain to electric mountain bicycles (eMTBs) on non-motorized trails. Any claims that AB 1096 would create access for eMTBs on singletrack trails or other trails on public lands, whether they are currently open or closed to mountain bicycles, is inaccurate.

PeopleForBikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association have been attentive to eMTB trail issues since AB 1096’s inception. Before the passage of AB 1096, it was illegal to ride an electric bicycle on bike paths California. Together as a coalition, the California Bicycle Coalition, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and PeopleForBikes fixed this. From day one of this effort, this coalition reached out to stakeholders who would be impacted by the bill and expert attorneys to ensure that this bill does not apply to off-road trails. It does not. This issue was addressed months ago and the parameters of the bill were confirmed every time the issue was raised.

Unfortunately, some people have inaccurately interpreted the law. AB 1096 makes a change to the California Uniform Vehicle Code and applies only to Class I, II, III, and IV bikeways. These are California Department of Transportation designations and the Uniform Vehicle Code has no legal bearing on the management of bicycle use on trails located on federal, state, county or city public lands. Bicycle access—electric or otherwise—is determined by the management guidelines of agencies with jurisdiction over those lands.

Rest assured, AB 1096 does not open the door to unfettered and unmanaged eMTB recreation or jeopardize existing mountain bicycling access. Our coalition regrets that some mountain bike stakeholders have been unrelenting in their attempts to discredit the spirit of the coalition’s effort to increase bicycle access. We hope this guest IMBA blog post will help clarify the situation. 

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