Bay Area lawmaker proposing restrictions on electric bikes for minors

Tara Campbell Image
Sunday, December 24, 2023
Bay Area lawmaker proposing restrictions on e-bikes for minors
One Bay Area lawmaker is concerned about the soaring number of e-bike accidents with kids, he is looking to set an age limit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From electric scooters to electric bikes, demand for EV's is booming and so are calls for more safety, especially for younger people.

"My proposed legislation prohibits individuals under the age of 16 from operating what are known as Class Two electric bicycles," said Assemblymember Damon Connolly, D-San Rafael.

Electric bikes that don't require any pedaling, in just a turn of a throttle and you're off.

"We believe that setting an age limit for operators will significantly reduce accidents and help ensure that our streets remain safe for everyone," said Connolly.

MORE: How to prevent e-bikes, e-scooters from starting a fire

"Over the recent months, our physicians have been seeing a shocking amount of e-bike accidents, especially among young people ten 10 to 19," said Heyman Oo, M.D. Pediatrician President San Francisco Marin Medical Society.

New data from the Marin County Health Department shows that age group is nine times more likely to get into accident with an e-bike and that three out every four bicycle accidents involved e-bikes.

"I've heard firsthand from our physician members about the seriousness of these accidents. These are injuries that are not like the scraped knees and bruised elbows that we would expect from a traditional bike accident," said Dr. Oo.

These class-two e-bikes can go up to 20 miles per hour and can be tweaked to reach even faster speeds.

The results are injures akin to high-speed vehicle accidents, physicians say.

MORE: E-bike popularity among young riders sparks call for more safety measures, training in Marin Co.

"These injuries include internal bleeding, pelvic fractures, damage to internal organs and brain trauma," Dr. Oo said.

And speaking of the brain, the proposed legislation would also require people of all ages riding a Class Two e-bike to wear a helmet.

"I kind of like the idea, yeah," said Steve Larson, who prefers to pedal his way around, sharing the streets of San Francisco with e-bike riders. He says the legislation makes sense to him.

"Because the kids are kind of running around crazy, so yeah I think you have to be a little older," he said.

And that's exactly the idea behind the proposed legislation, that older people have more experience and judgment to manage these machines.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live