Irvine Set to Impose Regulations on Electric Bikes

Irvine Set to Impose Regulations on Electric Bikes

A boy rides an E-Bike with his surfboard along the beach in Huntington Beach, Calif., on May 20, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

7/14/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Irvine City Council moved forward July 11 with plans to impose regulations on e-bikes, fearing that with their increasing popularity, e-bike riders have a higher risk of accidents and pose safety issues for residents.
During the meeting, Vice Mayor Tammy Kim said she recently encountered a group of teenagers on e-bikes riding through the outdoor Cypress Village Shopping Center at dangerous speeds.
“It was just really an awful experience. It’s what our residents are facing every day,” she said.
During the meeting, councilors unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance setting e-bike speed limits at 28 mph on city streets and 20 mph on bike paths and trails. The ordinance also bans e-bikes in open space environments, citing safety concerns and environmental hazards.
Staff, during the meeting, cited several instances where e-bike batteries have ruptured into flames causing concerns over potential wildfires in open space areas, such as the city’s open space preserve.
During a presentation, staff overseeing traffic and public safety showed a video where an e-bike’s battery caught fire due to its rechargeable lithium-ion battery rupturing, and pieces of it scattered up to 40 feet away from the bike.
“Now imagine if this fire in this video had originated in the open space preserve? I’m sure you can appreciate the very likely fire hazard that poses,” said Traffic and Special Events Bureau Lt. Matt McLaughlin during the meeting.
Data from 2022 shows there were 83 bicycle-involved traffic accidents, with a third from electric bicycles. Last year’s accidents were nearly double from the year prior, according to city staff.
Most e-bike accidents were because of unsafe speed, stop sign violations, failure to yield the right of way, and “unsafe turning movements,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
The ordinance—which will require a second reading and vote before its adoption—will require e-bike riders to yield the right of way to all pedestrians and vehicles and prohibit modifications to e-bikes to increase their speed capabilities.
From the factory, e-bikes have a speed limiter that can be tampered with and
increased, city staff said during the presentation.
E-bike riders will also be required to travel in the same direction as traffic on roadways and sidewalks less than 8 feet wide, but if there isn’t another sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, then the rule won’t apply.
Passengers will also be required to have their own seats.
If the ordinance is finally approved, violators of the new rules will be cited with a misdemeanor and fined. The amount for such a fine was not specified by city officials.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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