Council approves introduction of e-bike ordinance

The City Council this week approved the introduction of an ordinance to regulate e-bikes at the end of a one-hour, 13-minute meeting. The ordinance included other so-called mobility devices. The ordinance will have to come back to a future council meeting for adoption.

“Since the pandemic, e-bike sales have soared to record levels in the United States, a trend that is important for reducing carbon emissions generated by traditional gasoline-powered automobiles,” according to the May 8 staff report by Seal Beach Police Operations Capt. Michael Ezroj.

“However, the surge in popularity for e-bikes has also led to a rise in injuries, accidents, emergency room visits, and deaths among e-bike riders as well as riders of traditional bikes and pedestrians, as a growing body of research shows,” Ezroj wrote.

According to his report, there has not been a change in statewide standards, leaving cities with limited options for addressing e-bikes.

According to the report, the California Vehicle Code gives cities the authority to regulate bicycles on city facilities for bikes and pedestrians.

According to Ezroj’s report, the proposed ordinance would ban e-bikes or similar devices from public areas with signs announcing the prohibition.

“‘Public area’ means any outdoor area that is open to the members of the public for public use. A public area includes a public park, beach, or pier,” according to the text of the proposed ordinance.

“The ordinance specifically prohibits the use of an e-bike or similar mobile device on a sidewalk, in any public drainage facility, culvert, ditch, channel, or any other public athletic/sports court, or gymnasium in the city,” Ezroj wrote.

“Finally, it requires basic safety measures such as operating an e-bike with due care, such as preventing a rider from carrying other passengers on the handlebars of their e-bike,” Ezroj wrote.

“Ordinance 7.65 will aide in the regulations to help prevent e-bike accidents, injuries or even death,” Ezroj wrote.

“Additionally, this Ordinance provides offenders with an opportunity to attend a Police Department Safety Course on e-bike[s] in lieu of filing charges with the courts if a violation takes place,” Ezroj wrote.

“Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) stated most ebike users are children and might not have the skill or knowledge to maneuver them,” Ezroj wrote.

“CHOC noted they have treated over 80 pediatric injuries from e-bike riding in the past three years. They added the injuries generally involved kids about 14 to 16 years old, but some were younger,” Ezroj wrote.

His report pointed out that those were only the cases reported to hospitals.

According to his slide presentation to the council, e-bikes can move as quickly as 28 mph.

“All bicycles have to obey the rules of the road,” Ezroj said to the council Monday night.

However, he said there were gray areas in the rules of the road that the proposed ordinance would allow law enforcement to address.

“The goal of our department is to educate and then enforce and this ordinance allows that,” Ezroj said.

Ezroj said e-bikes that exceed 750 watts can be impounded.

“The e-bike craze is growing way fasters than the state and cities can keep up,” Ezroj said.

According to Kalmick, e-bikes have been seen darting out of alleys. According to Kalmick, they can accelerate from a standing start.

According to Ezroj, e-bike riders need to yield the right of way, just like a motor vehicle.

Landau asked if riders get a citation and they take the safety class, would they have to stay off their bikes until they take the class?

According to Ezroj, there was no way for the police to stop them from riding a bike unless it could be impounded due to its legal classification.