Electric Bikes can be used on the American River Bike Trail

California Assembly Bill 1096 became state law on January 1, 2016 and clarifies the legal questions regarding the use of electric bikes in California.

1. Defines what an “Electric Bike” is and clarifies that an e-bike is not a Motor Vehicle, Moped or Motorized Bicycle. An “electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.

2. Established three “Classes” of e-bikes, and where those types are allowed to be used.

The following table provides further information regarding the California Electric Bike Law referenced above:

Manufacturers and distributors are required to apply a permanent label in a prominent location to each electric bicycle that specifies which Class Number, Top Assisted Speed and the Motor Wattage.

Note: There are many online article related to California Electric Bicycle Assembly Bill #1096 on the Internet.   We encourage anyone that is interested in learning more about the details of this legislation to conduct an online search using his or her favorite search engine. 

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9 Responses to Electric Bikes can be used on the American River Bike Trail

  1. justesk8n says:

    Lets take a look at ab604 for electric skateboard users of the bike trail as well as the electric bike regulations. Many electric skateboard users report that the rangers are kicking them off the trail. ab604 says its legal to use bike trails even though there maybe laws regarding no skateboards, or motorized vehicles. ab604 reclassifies these skateboards into a new category, making old laws not apply to them. I am not aware of any new laws banning their use.

    • Jon says:

      AB 604 does nothing for electric skateboards, that I can see. This is more a legal definition and rules for the onewheel-style boards.
      SEC. 6. Section 21968 (a) and (b):
      “an electrically motorized board, as defined in Section 313.5, is not a motorized skateboard”.

      Regardless of electric or not, there is a speed limit on the trail and the dandy boys on their fancy pedal road bikes violate this all the time. The trails are for public use for people to enjoy our outdoors. Freedom and liberty first.

  2. Diesel says:

    I’m glad I looked up the rules today on AB 1096. I ride ARBT a lot and was coming back from 90 mile ride, and here comes a e-bike flying by me in the opposite direction going about 30 mph. Then 5 minutes later here comes another one. These bikes are becoming more prevalent on the the trail. My concern is they look like motorcycles with an engine but no noise, and the guys sitting on them don’t pedal, and they are wearing full faced downhill helmets. I’ve seen every potential issue that can occur on the trail, and at the rate of speed these guys are doing, they will not react quick enough. Runner, walkers, cyclist, dogs on leash, better be aware of these bike that exceed the allowable wattage that AB 1096 has allowed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s all in the name, “bike trail”. The trail was designed for a bicycle, a device that has pedals you push on and a chain that drives a rear wheel. Motorized bikes are out of phase with standard pedal bikes, (p-bikes) they have unusual speed capabilities. The (p-bikes) are very fast uphill, on a straight away. About the only place they are marginalized is on along descent. In practical terms this implys that a non experience rider is moving at a very quick pace. I consider this dangerous and a situation that we should act to control. No power biker other than human power! In closing, let’s not talk about watts, keep this about riding a bike. J Henry

  4. John Phillips says:

    The vast majority of road bike riders do not know about AB1096 and the signs still say no motors. Some e-bikes ok could be added to the signs.

  5. Claire Warshaw says:

    Martin – It does seem to be a problem with our society today. Many people seem not to be able relate to injuries and/or elderly conditions well. Also, I think some of our fast paced human powered road bicyclists, among the vast numbers of younger spry people, do not mind heckling people. I was riding on Saturday and at least 2 bicyclists passed me commenting little quips of their opinions (and I was riding a non-motorized bicycle). I met a couple at a CalBike organization meeting last fall whom ride from Davis to Sacramento on e-bikes. I might guess that this couple use to ride non-motorized bicycles, but eventually could not do that much cycling. I think there must be a valid plea for why regulated e-bicycles need to be accepted. I do not like motorized vehicles on the bicycle trail, but in this case if there is more knowledge about how this does not impact others badly, more people might understand. E-vehicles are quieter and non-polluting – perhaps e-bicycles are the same? I would guess yes.

  6. Martin Cline says:

    Why are the road bikers soo rude. Took my legal e-bike on the trail only to be heckled “no motors” by some passing road biker. I bought an e-bike due to health conditions, bone spurs on knee and recent spinal cord surgery. So I need the pedal assist. Yea, some day these road bikers will get old too. What gives these guys the self-proclaimed power to tell other people how to use the bike trail.

    • Nick says:

      Great points! I recently rode an e-bike along the trail and heard some similar negative comments from other cyclists. Some folks feel a motorized bike is a threat to their safety. But, I have seen some others wiz by at very high speeds (ignoring the posted speed limits) evidently training for some cycling race event. Make a rookie move when they come by and you can be subject to a collision with serious injury.

      I suppose some of the complaints are related to e-bikes being relatively new. However, as with most new changes, people get use to the changes as time passes.

    • Philip Agur says:

      Martin, I may not be far behind you, but for now, I cover 1800+ miles on a hybrid bike mostly on the ARBT. Most of the folks I ride with are on road bikes, and there were 50 of us on today’s ride.

      IMHO the problem with e-bikes under AB1096 is the wattage they made legal. I made an average of 200 watts over 22.5 miles today. The problem comes when someone who has just ridden 20 miles and climbed 1200+ feet sees an e-bike go by like they’re an Olympic rider (650 watts) because someone sold them a 750-watt e-bike instead of a more appropriate 200-350 watt e-bike.

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