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New proposed state law sparks outrage from commuters: 'That is the number one thing that we can do'

"We should focus more on building [infrastructure]."

New proposed state law sparks outrage from commuters

Photo Credit: iStock

If you need a license to drive a car, then you also need a license to ride an electric bike. At least, that's what a new proposed law in California says. 

Assembly Bill 530 proposes that Californians must obtain a license in order to ride an electric bike. Although e-bikes can be dangerous if improperly handled, the law has sparked some confusion among those who believe that e-bikes should be treated more like regular bikes, which do not require a license.

Electric bikes are seen as one of the most attractive electric vehicle options, given their low costs, practicality, and fun factor. The electric motor allows the rider to enjoy the feeling and freedom of riding a bike while cutting down on the physical exertion needed to pedal.

The increased popularity of e-bike ridership may mean decreased car dependency, which could help decrease the amount of planet-heating pollution in our atmosphere. 

However, as we introduce other vehicles to our roads, everyone must learn how to share the road for the sake of others and themselves. Electric bikes are faster and heavier than regular bikes, meaning they can be more difficult to control for new riders. 

The bill specifically addresses a subsect of e-bike riders — which includes many teenagers — who have never received a standard driver's license. Assembly Bill 530 would require a license modeled off a typical driver's license. The bill would also forbid children under 12 from riding e-bikes.

Some other countries, like Israel and the Netherlands, already have restrictions similar to the proposed bill.

There are mixed reactions to the bill. Some are in support, saying that increased regulation will help "prospective e-bike riders to learn about road rules and safety… [but] better and safer bike infrastructure needs to go hand in hand with this."

Some in the opposition say that this bill places too much focus on bicyclists and not general road safety. 

Commenting on Electrek's coverage of the news, one person wrote, "We should focus more on building more protected bike lanes instead of requiring licensing for e-bike riders … that is the number one thing that we can do to improve safety."

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