Skip to main content

MB News

City Council Calls for Crackdown on E-Bike Violations

Aug 02, 2023 08:48AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Manhattan Beach Police take an e-motorcycle off the road just outside Mira Costa High School on June 8, 2023.

Saying that "the time is now," the Manhattan Beach City Council on Tuesday night directed the Manhattan Beach Police Department to step up enforcement on e-bike violations. 

Bike safety, especially e-bike safety, has been a growing concern among residents as the use of e-bikes has proliferated. Many young people - some of whom do not yet know the rules of the road - use e-bikes for transportation around town, hitting speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, often without stopping for stop signs or without wearing a (buckled) helmet.

Police have largely relied on warnings rather than issuing citations, said Manhattan Beach Police Chief Rachel Johnson, with officers given latitude to "think outside the box" when it comes to how to get a bike safety message through to young people.

But council members have agreed that enough is enough.

Through the local bike safety campaign known as Ride Safe, Ride Ready, the young people of Manhattan Beach have heard bike safety talks given at every school across town, as well as in the Junior Guard program and the Hometown Fair, said Mayor Pro Tem Joe Franklin, who has been the City Council's leader on e-bike safety. 

"The time is now for stepping up enforcement. There’s no excuses anymore," said Franklin. "I believe we should go ahead and give those tickets. Let the parents see it." [A citation for a bicyclist would cost the same amount as a citation given to a vehicle driver.]

Franklin continued: "If the parents object, give them my number. I’ll talk to them. [The need for bike safety] is just so obvious."

Councilmembers also directed city staff to propose updates to the local bicycle ordinances - last updated in the 1970s - to account for new issues posed by e-bikes. 

They further agreed to urge Manhattan Beach's state legislators to support AB 530, a bill that would 1) prohibit anyone under the age of 12 from riding an e-bike; and 2) set up an e-bike license program, required for anyone operating an e-bike who does not have a driver's license. 

Manhattan Beach Police representatives noted at the meeting that they have a "directed enforcement" day planned for August 16, when officers from multiple police departments will be out in force to intercept riders who violate the rules. 

Police are also planning another bicycle safety event that will take place outside the police/fire complex on August 24 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

E-Bike or E-Motorcycle?


Manhattan Beach residents (and those in neighboring cities) have increasingly expressed concerns about e-bike safety, especially for young people. Police have been working to remind e-bike riders to follow all applicable safety rules, including wearing a (buckled) helmet.

An e-bike is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. The state of California defines three classes of electric bicycles:

Class 1: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor which provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.

Class 2: A low speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor used exclusively to propel the bicycle and NOT capable of providing assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.

Class 3: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a speedometer, and a motor which provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 28 mph is reached.

The operator of a Class 3 electric bicycle:
  • Must be 16 years old or older.
  • Must wear a bicycle safety helmet.
  • Must not transport passengers.
  • May ride an electric bicycle in a bicycle lane if authorized by local authority or ordinance.
All electric bicycle classes are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver's license, and license plate requirements.


E-Motorcycles Not Street Legal


Manhattan Beach Police have also cracked down in recent weeks on electric motorcycles, which are not street legal. 

An electric motorcycle or e-motorcycle is, in simplest terms, a motorcycle that runs on electric power. Electric motorcycles have motors that are between 3000-6000 watts, and it does not have pedals. (An electric bicycle has fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.)

In general, e-motorcycles are not street legal because they lack headlights, tail lights, mirrors, and turn signals. These bikes are designed for off-roading use. 

Such bikes can be modified with those safety items for street use, but the bikes need to be registered with a license plate and the driver must have the appropriate license.

In a high-profile stop last month, MBPD impounded an e-motorcycle being driven on the streets by a 13-year-old, resulting in an expensive lesson.

(Photo credit: Pete Halvorsen)

All told, the cost of the penalties to that e-motorcycle's owner were estimated to cost as much as $1000. That includes approximately $125 for towing, $405 for 30 days of (motorcycle) impound, $142 for the Manhattan Beach impounded vehicle release fee, up to $250 for the unlicensed driver citation, plus taxes and any other applicable fees.

The day that MB News ran the story about the e-motorcycle impound, police impounded another e-motorcycle outside Mira Costa (lead photo, above).





Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format