CARLSBAD: Ordinance cracking down on e-bike misuse now in effect


E-bike use in Carlsbad is now subject to rules under a new city ordinance. (Carlsbad city photo by Kristina Chartier)

News Release

The city of Carlsbad’s local laws that make it easier to enforce the safe and considerate use of bicycles, e-bikes, motorized scooters and other similar ways of getting around town is now in effect as of May 5.

This means that police can issue citations or offer certain violators a safety course option instead of a citation.

What are the new laws?

Specifically, the ordinance says riders:

Have a duty to always ride with care and to reduce speed when needed for safety;

Can’t have passengers on handlebars, floorboard or other areas of a bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device that aren’t specifically made for additional riders;

Can’t attach a bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device to any moving vehicle or motorized or non-motorized wheeled device;

Can’t operate or ride a bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device on sidewalks, public drainage facilities, culverts, ditches, channels, or any public athletic or sports court or gymnasium in the city;

Must get off their bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device on trails less than 5 feet wide when they’re within 50 feet of a pedestrian or horseback rider.

Who is affected?

The updated ordinance covers riders for a variety of motorized and non-motorized mobility devices including bicycles, e-bikes, electrically motorized boards, low-speed vehicles, motorized scooters, Segways, shared mobility devices such as electric scooters and other similar vehicles.

It doesn’t apply to the type of mobility devices that people with disabilities use to get around.

Why the change?

City Notes logo.As the use of e-bikes has increased in Carlsbad over the past few years, so have the number of accidents.

There were 186 traffic collisions involving bicycles or e-bikes between January 2019 and December 2021. In 163 of those accidents, one or more people were injured.

The City Council, Carlsbad Police, city staff and community members have all observed people riding e-bikes unsafely or violating traffic laws and have raised concerns about the impact on public safety.

The updated ordinance prohibits a broad range of careless and reckless behavior on bicycles, e-bikes and similar motorized devices, while the State Vehicle Code violations for these types of vehicles are more limited in scope.

It also allows the city to be in charge of enforcement rather than referring all cases for prosecution in court, which is required for State Vehicle Code citations. For instance, the Police Department could choose to offer a safety course to offenders instead of a citation and a court-ordered fine. The course may do more to impact future behavior, especially for younger riders who may not be as familiar with the rules of the road.

More e-bike safety efforts

The city of Carlsbad and Carlsbad Police have implemented several other initiatives in the past few years to enhance e-bike safety, including several that are ongoing:

More enforcement of traffic safety rules and Vehicle Code violations;

Creating resources to explain laws governing e-bikes and provide safety tips;

Hosting and promoting e-bike safety webinars and classes;

Creating public service announcements and social media campaigns promoting safety and the rules of the road;

Working with the San Diego County Bike Coalition to promote bicycle and e-bike safety, including through free classes.

The city of Carlsbad and Carlsbad Unified School District are hosting a bicycle and e-bike safety and education workshop for parents and students on Tuesday, May 24, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Pine Avenue Community Center. To attend, RSVP to Student Services Specialist Rosemary Eshelman at [email protected].

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