E-bikes are rapidly increasing in popularity, especially with teens as they provide increased independence. E- bikes allow children to travel further, and faster, allowing steep hills to be easily climbed with little effort. With independence comes responsibility and potential liability to the e-bike rider and their family if operated by a minor.
In recent weeks the Town of Corte Madera and the Central Marin Police Authority have received increased complaints about safety concerns related to e-bike riders navigating our streets, roadways, and bike paths in an unsafe manner, leaving the rider and community members at risk for an accident and/or injury. Parents are ultimately responsible for the damage and injury resulting from an at-fault minor operating e-bikes in an unsafe manner. If your child is operating an e-bike in our community, please ensure they’re operating in a safe, appropriate, and acceptable manner. Aside from having a basic discussion with your child on operating in a respectable manner, here are other factors to consider.
Is your child experienced enough to manage the increased speeds and maneuverability of a heavy e-bike?
Parents are advised to do their own research and assess their children’s cycling capabilities before purchasing an e-bike. Below are some considerations to help parents make informed decisions.
- Heavy e-bikes traveling at high speeds are harder to maneuver and take longer to stop. The average speed of a standard bicyclist is 12 mph. Type 1 & 2 E-bikes can travel up to 20 mph (Type 3- 28 mph). This is a significant difference when considering the experience level of student e-bike riders.
- E-bike riders (and all cyclists) must follow the same rules as vehicles when riding on roadways. (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §21230)
Is your child experienced with the following?
- Taking turns with vehicles at intersections after coming to a complete stop,
- Riding predictably WITH the flow of traffic and does not weave in and out of vehicles,
- Riding outside of the door zone of parked vehicles (at least 3 feet away),
- Using hand signals for turning right, left, and stopping, and scans before merging onto roads and changing lanes,
- Obeying posted speeds on pathways and giving pedestrians the right of way,
- Knowing how to stop abruptly and dodge obstacles without swerving into vehicle lanes,
- Committed to wearing a helmet and ensuring their passenger does as well (17 and under are required to do so by law).
Riding confidently on roads and pathways takes practice!
Parents, or another experienced adult cyclist, are advised to ride with children to ensure they are following the rules of the road and can handle the bicycle in various road conditions. With e-bikes, this includes extra practice – always riding responsibly and under control, including switching between gears and speed settings.
If you or someone close to you owns and operates an e-bike in Town, please help keep our community safe by talking with riders about basic e-bike etiquette and safety principles.
This information has been provided through the Transportation Authority of Marin and Marin County Safe Routes to School. Safe Routes to Schools teaches students the Rules of the Road in elementary and middle schools. Their bicycle classes give students the opportunity to practice maneuvers on mock streets.
Visit the Safe Routes Website: www.saferoutestoschools.org to find out more including:
Safe Routes Safety Tips
Safe Routes to School Curriculum Overview
Marin County Bicycle Coalition E-Bike Policies in Marin County
DMV Two-Wheel Vehicle Operation