law | 511 Contra Costa

What Parents Should Know About E-Bikes and E-Scooters

Should I Get My Child an E-Scooter?

If you’re looking to score big points by giving your child an electric scooter, be aware that California state law requires a driver’s license to operate an e-scooter. This means children younger than 16 cannot legally ride one. More:

  • Helmets are mandatory for electric scooter riders under the age of 18.
  • E-scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks or multi-use trails.
  • The speed limit for scooters in bike lanes is 15 mph.
  • Riding tandem, with a buddy, is not allowed.
  • E-scooter riders must follow all the same rules of the road as drivers.

What About Getting an E-Bike for My Child?

Photo of teen riding e-bike on street

For now, no law prohibits minors from riding Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes (those with maximum assist speeds of 20 mph). To operate a Class 3 e-bike, which can provide assisted speeds of up to 28 mph, riders must be at least 16 years of age, although a driver’s license is not required. Parents are advised to assess their child’s cycling skills and to consider their levels of experience and maturity before purchasing them an e-bike. More:

  • Children under the age of 18 are required to wear a bike helmet on any type of bike/e-bike, scooter, skateboard, or roller skates. (Adults are also legally required to wear a helmet on Class 3 bikes.)
  • In most cases, riding any type of bike on sidewalks (including e-bikes) is less safe than riding in the bike lane. Sidewalk riding is not permitted in most places.
  • The speed limit on multi-use trails for all bikes is 15 mph.
  • Parents: Be aware that many Class 2 e-bikes can be easily modified after purchase to go faster than 20 mph, allowing tech-savvy kids to travel at speeds unsafe for their level of experience.
  • E-bikes are heavier and harder to maneuver than traditional bicycles; it takes longer to stop them at higher speeds.

If you plan to get your child an e-bike or e-scooter, a parent (or experienced adult cyclist) is advised to ride with them to teach and demonstrate the rules of the road and safe riding techniques. If your young rider cannot maintain control, rides unpredictably, or has trouble handling their new wheels in various types of conditions, it may be too soon for them to graduate from their traditional, non-motorized bike or scooter.

New Laws for 2018

2018 is here, and with it some new laws for transit and vanpool commuter benefits, walking and driving.
Pre-Tax Commuter Benefit: If your employer offers a program where you can pay for transit or vanpool commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars, the monthly cap for that benefit has risen to $260 for 2018. The pre-tax cap for biking expenses remains at $20.
Pedestrian Crossing Signals (AB 390): For crosswalk signals which include a countdown timer, it is now legal for a pedestrian to enter the crosswalk after the countdown has started, as long as they can make it across by the time the counter reaches zero. It is still illegal to begin crossing at a traditional pedestrian signal (i.e. no countdown timer) after it has begun flashing.
Seat Belts on Buses (SB 20): Effective July 1, 2018 – In buses which are equipped with seatbelts, the law requires both the passengers and the driver to wear them. The driver is also responsible for informing passengers of this requirement.
Driving Passengers for Hire (AB 2687, 2016): Effective July 1, 2018 – Now lowered to match the current limit for bus and truck drivers, the blood-alcohol limit for individuals driving for Uber, Lyft and similar services has been lowered to 0.04 percent when carrying passengers.
New Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees(SB 1): A new ‘transportation improvement fee’ will be added to all vehicle registration fees – ranging from $25 to $175 based on the value of a car or truck.
No Parking Citations at Broken Meters (AB 1625): You cannot be restricted from or ticketed for parking at a broken meter. However, you must still observe the posted time limit for parking.
Alcohol and Marijuana in Vehicles (SB 65, 94): Smoking or ingesting cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited. The law also prohibits the possession of an open container of cannabis or cannabis product when operating a motor vehicle.
To see the full text of any California law above, visit the California Legislative Information website.

Commuter Transit Benefit Rises to $255 a Month for 2016

LynxBusRidersAs part of a Federal spending-and-tax bill which was passed in December, this year commuters will be able to set aside up to $255 per month in pre-tax dollars to pay for public transportation.
Not only is this a substantial increase over last year’s pre-tax transit benefit ($130), but now the benefit to transit commuters is equal to the parking benefit offered to commuters who drive. The new law also guarantees that the two benefits will remain equal in the future.

California Passes E-Bike Law (2015)

In October, Governor Brown signed legislation into law which clarifies how electric bicycles (e-bikes) should be operated in the state of California.
The law, which takes effect January 1, creates three classes of e-bikes. Class 1 consists of pedal-assist e-bikes while Class 2 consists of e-bikes with throttles. Both classes are limited to motor-assisted speeds of 20 miles per hour and will be allowed to use the same lanes, paths & roadways as traditional (non-electric) bicycles.

Class 3 consists of pedal-assist bikes which can reach assisted speeds of up to 28 miles per hour. This class is restricted to roadways and bike lanes on roadways – they are not permitted on bike paths. Helmets for Class 3 e-bikes are mandatory and riders must be at least 16 years old to use them.
The new law is designed to ensure that e-bikes are treated like traditional bicycles instead of mopeds. As with traditional bicycles, no one riding an e-bike from any of the three classes will be required to have a driver’s license or license plate for their bicycle.
Visit the People for Bikes blog for more on this story.

Overview of California Driving & Cycling Laws (2014)

State Law 3 Feet to Pass
With California’s Three Feet for Safety law now in effect, we thought we’d present an overview of California laws designed to help drivers and cyclists share the road safely
Motorists & Cyclists

  • Rights and Responsibilities: Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Both have the right to use the roadway; both are responsible for signaling turns and stops, as well as stopping at all red lights and stop signs. (CVC 21200, CVC 22107CVC 22111)
  • Yielding to pedestrians: Drivers and cyclists must yield to pedestrians, whether they are crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Crosswalks must be left free and clear for pedestrians. (CVC 21954 (b), CVC 21950CVC 21455)
  • Blocking a Bike Lane: Neither motorists nor cyclists may stop in a bike lane or on a bike path. (CVC 21211, CVC 22512)
  • Turning Out of Slow Moving Vehicles: On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle (including bicycles and passenger vehicles) behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. (CVC 21656)


  • Passing Cyclists: When passing a cyclist, motorists are required to allow at least three feet between their vehicle and the cyclist. If doing so would cause a hazard, they must slow down and pass the cyclist only when it is safe to do so. (CVC 21760)
  • Right Turns and Bike LanesTurning Across a Bike Lane: When making a right turn that involves crossing a bike lane, the driver must merge into the bike lane and turn from the curb. State law requires that all right-hand turns be made from “as far right as practicable.” (CVC 21717, CVC 22100)
  • Opening and Closing Doors: Before opening doors, drivers must look for oncoming traffic and may not open the door unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. The door must not be left open longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. (CVC 22517)


  • Travel Lanes: Cyclists moving at less than the speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as is safe & practicable. Cyclists have the right to take the lane when passing, preparing for a left turn, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if they are approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. (CVC 21202)
  • Bicycle Lanes: On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane, with the same exceptions as noted above. (CVC 21208)
  • Moving Left to Avoid Hazards & Pass: Cyclists are allowed to move left to avoid hazards like fixed or moving objects, hazardous surface conditions, animals, glass, etc. This includes moving left when passing a vehicle (esp. a turning vehicle turning right) or another bicycle traveling in the same direction. (CVC 21202 (a))
  • Riding on Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. Check local regulations. (CVC 21206)

Bicycle Operation & Required Equipment

  • Helmets: Cyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear a helmet when riding on a bicycle. (CVC 21212)
  • Head phones: Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears. (CVC 27400)
  • Use Lights at Night: A white headlight and reflectors are required by law if riding when it’s dark. (CVC 21201)
  • Ride with a Brake: A bike must be equipped with a brake that enables the rider “to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” (CVC 21201)


New cellphone laws may be coming soon

Last week, the California legislature passed a bill that may make you think twice before whipping out your phone.
If signed into law, the fine for driving and texting/talking without a hands free device will jump to $309 (up from $189). Violate the law a second time, and get a point on your driving record.
The Senate Bill 28 also bans handheld phone while riding a bicycle. Currently, no low forbids biking on a cellphone, but it certainly looks dangerous. The fees for biking and talking are lower – $20 for the first time and $50 each time after that.
The Contra Costa Times report that as many as 40 percent of drivers using cellphones ignore the current law. During a crackdown in April, police issued almost 60,000 tickets.
What do you think? Are handsfree phones safer? Do you risk it? Is this just another reason to take transit and leave the driving to someone else (we think so).