Electric Bikes

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iStock ebike icon E-bikes are more popular than ever and allow people of many ages and abilities to get out and enjoy the fun and enjoyment of cycling with assistance from an electric motor. There are many different styles of e-bikes, from cargo e-bikes to beach cruisers to mountain bikes, making them useful and fun in many ways. E-bikes also provide a great alternative to getting in a car to travel around town.

If you ride, or are considering riding an e-bike in and around Encinitas, please take the time to learn what's allowed, what the applicable laws are and follow guidelines and recommendations for riding safely.

News and Events

Bike/E-Bike Safety Video

Our official City of Encinitas video created in partnership with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition illustrates the common rules of the road, riding tips, e-bike classifications and laws and demonstrates proper use of bicycle infrastructure.

Bike/E-Bike "City Cycling" Skills and Safety Classes Offered in Encinitas

Bike Safety ClassesIn our class, offered in partnership with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, you will learn the rules of the road and practice essential bike riding skills with a trained bike instructor. Topics covered include where to ride, best practices, emergency maneuvers, legal rights and responsibilities.

The 3-hour class is broken up into 3 parts: lecture, skills drills, and a guided road ride to put your new skills into action! Class content applies to both regular and e-bikes. Make sure your bike is in good working order and ready to ride. Some cycling experience is required as this is not a "learn-to-ride" class.

Encinitas residents will receive a refund of registration amount after completion of the course ($2.50 ActiveNet system processing fee is non-refundable). If under 16, parent registration and participation strongly encouraged. For participants 12 and under, parent registration and participation required.

Bike/E-Bike "City Cycling" classes (click for info and to register):

All classes held 9am - 12pm on Saturdays at the Encinitas Community Center.

Free E-Bike Safety School Assemblies

Available to all schools in Encinitas, this 40-minute assembly (in-person or virtual), provided by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, includes the rules of the road for all bike riders, but focuses specifically on regulations for e-bikes and tips about where to ride and how to ride an e-bike legally and safely. This assembly can be tailored for elementary, middle or high school students. School administrators can sign up their school once per year to receive this free class through the SANDAG iCommute Program.

Find more information at www.icommutesd.com/school/walk-ride-and-roll-to-school.

E-Bike Safety Webinar was held on August 31, 2021

On Tuesday, August 31, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department in cooperation with the Cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach held a virtual meeting regarding E-Bike Safety and Laws.

The meeting opened with a presentation by Deputy David Drake form the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Following the presentation a question-and-answer period was held. The meeting ended with a segment by Kevin Baross, Education Programs Manager with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Kevin shared resources and educational opportunities with the attendees.

A video of the webinar can be viewed online via YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3YVhz92Tto.

What qualifies as an e-bike?

An e-bike is an electric bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.

  • E-bikes are regulated like bicycles. The same rules of the road apply to e-bikes and human-powered bicycles. Learn more in our E-bike Road Rules flyer.
  • Electric bicycles are not subject to the registration, licensing or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.


bike-laws2-1Of the many styles of e-bikes out there, most fall within three (3) legal classifications (types), which are described below.

Type 1:

  • Pedal-assisted.
  • Power maxes out at 20mph.
  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.

Type 2:

  • Pedal or throttle-assisted.
  • Power maxes out at 20mph.
  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.

Type 3:

  • Pedal or throttle-assisted.
  • Maxes out at 28mph.
  • Some restrictions on where they can be ridden, see below.

Any e-bike that assists the rider over 28mph is not street legal and must stay off of roads, sidewalks and multi-use trails and paths.

It is against the law in California to modify or otherwise tamper with electric bicycles in a way that changes the speed capability, unless the rider also changes the bicycle’s classification. Electric bicycles with motors of more than 750 watts, and bicycles with gas motors are technically motorcycles according to the law and require Class M licenses, registration and insurance.

E-Bike Rider Requirements

cruiser ebikeType 1:

  • No minimum age
  • No driver's license required
  • Helmet required for 17 and under

Type 2:

  • No minimum age
  • No driver's license required
  • Helmet required for 17 and under

Type 3:

  • Minimum age 16
  • No driver's license required
  • Helmet required for all ages

What to know about passengers on e-bikes

  • Most e-bikes are not equipped to carry passengers. Per CVC, e-bikes can only transport passengers if there is a permanent seat or when using a child safety seat.
  • Passengers are required to wear a helmet if they are under 18.
  • Type 3 e-bike riders must not transport passengers.

Where You Can Ride

IMG_2001In Encinitas there are a few key differences in where an e-bike can and cannot ride.

Public right of way determined by CA Vehicle Code (CVC)

  • Bike paths: Type 1 and Type 2 e-bikes are allowed on bike paths. Type 3 are not allowed.
  • Bike lanes: All types are allowed in bike lanes.
  • Sharrows (shared roadways): All classifications are allowed in sharrows. Arrow markings painted in roadway indicate a sharrow, where the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and motor vehicle to share the lane safely side-by-side. Bicyclists should discourage unsafe passing by riding toward the middle of the sharrow.
  • Roadways: Bicyclists/e-bikes have a right to the road even if no sharrow is present

Trail access determined by various agencies - always be sure to obey posted signage

  • Type 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed on all Encinitas trails and paths which indicate bicycles are allowed.
  • In California State Parks, Type 1 and Type 2 electric bicycles may be allowed where bicycles are allowed as long as they’re not specifically called out as prohibited. They are currently allowed in Wilder Ranch State Parks, as well as Folsom and Auburn State Recreation Areas. Contact California State Parks for more information.
  • FEDERAL: As of August 29th 2019 all e-bikes up to 750 watt can now access Federal Lands and natural parks anywhere a regular bicycle can access. The one exception is National Forests, the forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture and these changes are not implemented yet on the forests. Changes are happening to align all Federal land to the recent Order. Contact the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office or the BLM California State Office for more information.

Rules of the Road

All cyclists (e-bike riders included) are subject to all the same rules of the road as motorists. Cyclists who don’t follow the rules are subject to ticketing and fines as defined by the California Vehicle Code or local Municipal Code. Please review our handy E-bike Road Rules flyer.

E-bike Road Rules folding brochureMake sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Cyclists 17 years and under must wear a helmet.
  • Traffic lights, signs, and signals apply to all road users, including e-bike riders.
  • If you're riding slower than traffic, ride in the bike lane. You can leave the bike lane to turn left, pass someone, avoid a road hazard or avoid cars turning right.
  • Sidewalks and cross walks are meant for pedestrians. Dismount and walk your e-bike in these areas. You must stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.
  • Be aware of other road users, and try to match the average speed. This means riding slowly in areas with pedestrians.
  • Must stop at red lights.
  • Must stop before right turn at red lights.
  • Must stop at stop signs.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic is prohibited.
  • Riding against the flow of traffic is prohibited.
  • Cyclists must ride to the right edge of road as practical.
  • Proper reflective equipment must be used (during night operation).
  • When a bicycle lane is available, bicyclists are required to use the bike lane unless they are traveling as fast as traffic.
  • It is illegal to carry passengers on your e-bike unless your bike has an extra permanent seat or when using a child safety seat.

For more information please check out the complete California Vehicle Code (CVC) descriptions.

More E-Bike Resources

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