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

  1. Anonymous says:

    Cyclist r just plan rough on the arbt regardless if ur walking ur dog, riding a ebike or riding a road bike. Get over it! Share the trail, it’s for everyone no just ur ego’s.

  2. Papa G says:

    I find this discussion interesting. I have been a regular cyclist on the ARBT for over 35 years. When MTB’s first came out in the 80’s I got one. On occasion, in the very early mornings, I would ride it on the running/equestrian trails adjacent to the ARBT near Main Avenue. One morning I was approached by a large unleashed dog coming from the opposite direction. About 5 -10 seconds later a runner followed and proclaimed “NO BIKES ALLOWED OFF OF THE PAVED TRAILS.” That morning, I was thinking on my feet (actually my pedals) and quickly replied “THERE ARE LEASH LAWS IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY.”

    It is the same thing now happening with e-bikes. In 2018 my wife and I turned 65 and we got Class 1 e-bikes. In addition to pleasure riding, I use mine to commute 15 along the ARBT 15 miles each way to work, weather and work schedule permitting (good for the environment and my health). We have had some sarcastic remarks tossed our way by egocentric, primarily road cyclists, who don’t realize that Class 1 e-bikes are legal on the ARBT. The pedal assist is limited to 20 MPH. The key has been, we don’t use excessive speed, like the roadies in pace lines, of which I admit, I used to be one.

    My point is, it is human nature at work. PEOPLE LIKE TO BOSS OTHER PEOPLE AROUND. Cyclist are competitive. They don’t like to be passed, especially the men, I know because I didn’t like to be passed either. Slow down, especially if you come up on walkers, children and slower cyclist. Show respect for others, a kind word when passing is appreciated. Don’t pass a cyclist going close to your speed, until you can confirm that you will be able to maintain a speed to stay ahead of them.

    The ARBT is a beautiful resource and it is the reason we have stayed in the same home for 35 years, with direct access to it. It is a great resource and hopefully, it will continue to be enjoyed by law abiding cyclists and e-bike riders, peacefully co-existing on into the future!

    • e-motorluvr says:

      Well said, Papa G. I own two road bikes, a OneWheel, an e-skateboard, an e-bike…and enjoy them all. In all of my years riding with and around all of these communities, the only hostility I’ve ever felt was from roadies. The ARBT should be open to all with top end speed as the only limiting factor. If it’s open to everyone, then everyone would feel entitled to enjoying it rather than a select few.

      • CS says:

        I think Papa G states the most important rule of riding on the ARBT, be respectful. I also ride an e-bike to commute in to downtown. I have been nearly hit by a road bike or two, once when they are flying under the Northgate bridge into my lane. I agree the animals are often the biggest issue: Deer, turkeys, a coyote or two and the stray (or not so stray) dogs. I often carry food, fruit or water to share or toss. It seems to make everyone happy.

    • Joe Henry says:

      From: Joe Henry, Henry Racing Group West, 42 Car. Well, Let’s keep the speed reasonable, for pedal assist 20 MPH sounds right, safe. I don’t see any speed monitoring equipment, as in the ye ole’ “radar gun”. Let’s get the radar gun in use, show a presence ! The principal difference is how and when the “Electric Bike Makes Speed”. The e-bike goes fast when the pedal bike is slowing. Example: Hills, down hills, hot days, cold days. In vehicles it’s the speed differential and speed capability mismatch. That’s why we don’t run our Champ Car, or Cup Cars together. They both run 230 mph plus, but do the speed differently, make speed at different times. Remember always wear a HELMET. Enjoy the ride, J Henry

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

      • Papa G says:

        Hi Martin: My wife and I (both 65 years old) were riding our Class 1 (legal) e-bikes on the ARBT today, minding our own business and not speeding, when a guy on a road bike riding in the opposite direction yells “the least you could do is turn off your light.” My e-bike is Trek SC and the light is always on. It was a sunny afternoon, my light had no affect on his visibility, but he thought it necessary to spout off at me. I’ve ridden literally thousands of miles on the ARBT on my Dura Ace equipped Madone, and was in a training group with four guys for years who rode the RAAM. I was never rude to other riders. I am not a novice or inexperienced rider, I am a 36 year type 1 insulin dependent diabetic who likes to get out with my wife any enjoy a little fresh air on the ARBT. If he reads this, maybe this guy will think twice before dishing out rude comments! Hoping people can at least be nice.

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