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San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

For Immediate Release

Author: Traffic Sergeant Scott Ingels
Date: March 27, 2024 1:20 PM

Questions About E-Bikes?

E-bike safety has become a subject of increasing concern across Marin County.  The San Rafael Police Department has received requests for information specifically about what defines an electric bicycle (E-Bike) and information about the laws governing them.  Many state/local agencies and community groups have produced extensive materials regarding definitions, use, best practices and operational legal requirements.  Attached to this post are links to the California Highway Patrol, Department of Motor Vehicles, Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Transportation Authority of Marin, Safe Routes to School and the California Bicycle Coalition, all answering the routinely asked questions. 

Here is a simple fact to be aware of.  The basis of this question is typically the beginning of any discussion we have about electric bicycles and their use:

As defined by the California Vehicle Code, Any two-wheel device being operated on a highway, with an electric motor capable of producing 750 watts or more, is NOT an e-bike(749.9watts or less = potential e-bike)(750 watts or more = NOT an e-bike).  Depending on the equipment, that device is more accurately categorized as a moped, motor-driven cycle, motorized scooter or motorcycle.  Yes, all of those devices have different legal definitions.  If the device is not an e-bike, the device is subject to legal licensing, registration, insurance, equipment and use guidelines more stringent than an electric bicycle.  Based on the definition provided by the California Vehicle Code, the San Rafael Police Department will treat two-wheeled electric vehicles with electric motors producing 750 watts, or more, as an electric vehicle as described above (not an E-bike), and being subject to the appropriate licensing, registration, equipment and insurance requirements for those vehicles.

CA Law defining an electric bicycle - Section 312.5 CVC

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=312.5.&lawCode=VEH 

CA law defining a highway

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=360.&lawCode=VEH 

DMV Motorcycle Manual

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/uploads/2020/03/dl665.pdf 

CHP Bike Info and Safety Page

https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/services-information/bike-and-ped-safety 

CHP E-Bike Safety Training

https://www.chp.ca.gov/PressReleases/Pages/CHP-ROLLS-OUT-STATEWIDE-SAFETY-TRAINING-PROGRAM--FOR-ELECTRIC-BICYCLES.aspx 

CalBike E-Bike Flyer

https://www.calbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AB_1096_-_Info_for_Agencies-1.pdf 

MCBC E-Bike Buyers Guide

https://marinbike.org/news/e-bike-buyers-guide/ 

Transportation Authority of Marin E-Bike Study

https://www.tam.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/6-TAM-Electric-Bike-Study.pdf 

If you have additional questions or comments, please reach out to the SRPD Traffic Unit at 415-485-3034.

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Posted: March 27, 2024 1:15 PDT by Traffic Sergeant Scott Ingels


Updated: March 27, 2024 1:29 PDT by Justin Graham

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