BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AB 1096           Hearing Date:     6/23/2015
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          |Author:   |Chiu                                                  |
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          |Version:  |6/15/2015                                             |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Christine Hochmuth                                    |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Vehicles:  electric bicycles


            DIGEST:  This bill establishes new categories of electric  
          bicycles and places restrictions on their operation.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:
          
          1)Defines "motorized bicycles" or "mopeds" as a two- or  
            three-wheeled device with fully operative pedals for  
            human-powered propulsion, or having no pedals if powered  
            solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and  
            a motor that is less than 4 horsepower and is capable of  
            propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30  
            miles per hour (mph).

          2)Defines a "motorized bicycle" as a device that has fully  
            operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an  
            electric motor that meets all the following requirements:

             a)   Has a maximum power output of 1,000 watts.
             b)   Propels the device at a speed of not more than 20 mph.
             c)   Cannot increase the speed of the device when human power  
               is used to propel the device faster than 20 mph.

          1)Prohibits the operation of motorized bicycles on all bicycle  
            paths or trails, bikeways, bicycle lanes, equestrian trails,  
            and hiking or recreational trails unless the local authority  







          AB 1096 (Chiu)                                      Page 2 of ?
          
          
            with jurisdiction over the facility permits their operation.

          2)Establishes requirements for helmet use for operators and  
            passengers of bicycles (children under 18), motorcycles (all  
            ages), motorized scooters (all ages), and motorized bicycles  
            (all ages). 

          3)Sets a minimum age for the operation of motorized bicycles (16  
            and older).

          This bill:

          1)Removes from the Vehicle Code the second definition of  
            motorized bicycle detailed above (those with a top speed of 20  
            mph).

          2)Adds a new section to the vehicle code in order to define and  
            categorize electric bicycles into three classes based on  
            maximum motor speed and type of assist provided (classes  
            described in comments).

          3)Prohibits a Class 3 electric bicycle from being operated on a  
            bicycle path or trail, bikeway, or bicycle lane, unless it is  
            within or adjacent to a roadway or unless expressly permitted  
            by the appropriate local authority that has jurisdiction.

          4)Allows Class 1 or Class 2 electric bicycles to be operated on  
            a bicycle path or trail.  However, a local authority or  
            governing body of a public agency that has jurisdiction over a  
            bicycle path or trail, equestrian trail, or hiking or  
            recreational trail may prohibit, by ordinance, the operation  
            of a Class 1 or Class 2 electric bicycle on that path or  
            trail.

          5)Prohibits a person under the age of 16 from operating a Class  
            3 electric bicycle.  Requires an operator or passenger of a  
            Class 3 electric bicycle to wear a helmet while on a street or  
            bikeway.
          
          COMMENTS:

          1)Purpose of the bill.  According to the author, California's  
            regulations of electric bicycles are outdated.  Modern  
            electric motor-assisted bicycles are designed to behave almost  
            exactly like a regular bicycle - just easier to pedal - but  








          AB 1096 (Chiu)                                      Page 3 of ?
          
          
            they are regulated as motorized bicycles with restrictions  
            that bar their use on most bicycle paths.  Ambiguous language  
            in the description of electric bikes creates confusion for  
            manufacturers and consumers in this fast-growing market.  The  
            author introduced this bill to create improved definitions of  
            electric bikes and appropriately permit more access to trails  
            and paths.
          






           ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |                |   Motorized    |   Motorized    |     e-bike     |     e-bike     |     e-bike     |
          |                |bicycle VEH 406 |bicycle VEH 406 |    Class 1     |    Class 2     |    Class 3     |
          |                |      (a)       |     (b)  *     |                |                |                |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Definiti|Any two- or |Has pedals  |Low-speed|Low-speed |Pedal-ass|
          |on      |three-wheele|and an      |         |throttle-a|isted    |
          |        |d device    |electric    |pedal-ass|ssisted   |electric |
          |        |with        |motor that  |isted    |electric  |bicycle, |
          |        |pedals, or  |meets all   |electric |bicycle,  |equipped |
          |        |without     |of the      |bicycle, |equipped  |with a   |
          |        |pedals if   |following   |equipped |with a    |motor    |
          |        |powered     |requirements|with a   |motor     |that     |
          |        |solely by   |:           |motor    |that may  |provides |
          |        |electrical  |1) power    |that     |be used   |assistanc|
          |        |energy, and |output of   |provides |exclusivel|e only   |
          |        |an          |not more    |assistanc|y to      |when the |
          |        |automatic   |than 1000   |e only   |propel    |rider is |
          |        |transmission|watts       |when the |the       |pedaling |
          |        | and a      |2) Cannot   |bicycle  |bicycle   |and      |
          |        |motor that  |move the    |reaches  |and is    |ceases   |
          |        |produces    |device at a |20 mph   |incapable |to       |
          |        |less than 4 |more than   |         |of        |provide  |
          |        |gross brake |20 mph      |         |provided  |assistanc|
          |        |horsepower  |3) Cannot   |         |assistance|e when   |
          |        |and is      |increase    |         | when the |the      |
          |        |capable of  |the speed   |         |bicycle   |bicycle  |
          |        |propelling  |of the      |         |reaches   |reaches  |
          |        |the device  |device when |         |20 mph    |28 mph,  |
          |        |at a        |human power |         |          |equipped |








          AB 1096 (Chiu)                                      Page 4 of ?
          
          
          |        |maximum     |is used to  |         |          |with a   |
          |        |speed of    |propel the  |         |          |speedomet|
          |        |not more    |bike faster |         |          |er       |
          |        |than 30 mph |than 20 mph |         |          |         |
          |        |            |            |         |          |         |
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Driver's|  Yes - M2  |     No     |   No    |    No    |   No    |
          |        |            |            |         |          |         |
          |License |            |            |         |          |         |
          |required|            |            |         |          |         |
          |?       |            |            |         |          |         |
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Helmets |    Yes,    | Yes, bike  |  Under  |Under 18, |  Yes,   |
          |required| motorcycle |   helmet   |18, bike |   bike   |  bike   |
          |?       |   helmet   |            | helmet  |  helmet  |helmet   |
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Age     |  16 years  |  16 years  |   No    |    No    |16 years |
          |requirem|    old     |    old     |         |          |old      |
          |ent     |            |            |         |          |         |
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Permitte| No, unless | No, unless |  Yes,   |   Yes,   |   No,   |
          |d on    |approved by |approved by | unless  |  unless  | unless  |
          |Bike    |   local    |   local    |prohibite|prohibited|approved |
          |Path?   | authority  | authority  |  d by   | by local |by local |
          |        |            |            |  local  |authority |authority|
          |        |            |            |authority|          |         |
          |        |            |            |         |          |         |
          |--------+------------+------------+---------+----------+---------|
          |Subject |    Yes     |    Yes     |   Yes   |   Yes    |Yes      |
          |to DUI  |            |            |         |          |         |
          |laws?   |            |            |         |          |         |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          Table comparing regulations on motorized bicycles and all  
          classes of electric bicycles
          * This bill eliminates the second category of motorized  
          bicycles.

          2)Electric bicycles.  This bill classifies electric bicycles  
            based on the type of motorized assistance that they provide to  
            riders and the maximum speed at which their motors can provide  
            assistance.  Class 1 and Class 2 cannot provide assistance  
            once the bike reaches 20 mph.  Class 3 can provide assistance  
            up to 28 mph.  (It should be noted that all classes are  
            capable of obtaining greater speeds with human power.)









          AB 1096 (Chiu)                                      Page 5 of ?
          
          
               Pedal assist is a mode that provides power only when the  
               operator is pedaling.  Certain electric bicycles come  
               equipped with a throttle that when engaged causes the motor  
               to provide power and propel the operator and the bicycle  
               forward.

          3)Safety first.  Recent amendments address committee staff  
            concerns that the motor of electric bicycles should be  
            disengaged or cease to function when the brakes are applied  
            and that electric bicycles should not be tampered with to  
            alter their speed, similar to the regulations governing  
            motorized bicycles.  Additionally, it has been clarified that  
            electric bicycles are not motor vehicles and as such are not  
            subject to driver's license, registration, and license plate  
            requirements.

          4)Like bicycles.  This bill would uphold electric bicycles to  
            the same regulations (specified in Article 4 of the Vehicle  
            Code) as bicycles, including provisions relating to helmets  
            for minors, biking under the influence, equipment  
            requirements, etc. 
           
          5)Local control.  This bill allows electric bicycle riders  
            (Class 1 and 2) to use roads just like other bicycle riders  
            while also providing for some measure of local control if  
            safety concerns arise on specific paths or trails.  This bill  
            prohibits Class 3 electric bikes on paths and trails unless  
            expressly authorized, again allowing for flexibility at the  
            local level.

          6)Age requirements.  This bill imposes a minimum age of 16 for  
            the operation of Class 3 bicycles, while there is no specified  
            minimum age for Class 1 and Class 2.
          
          Related Legislation:
          
          AB 875 (Harper) - redefines a motorized bicycle by renaming it a  
          "low-speed electric bicycle," stating that it can have either  
          two or three wheels, lowering the maximum power output to 750  
          watts, and requiring that it weigh no more than 80 pounds.  The  
          bill exempts a low-speed electric bicycle from the prohibition  
          on the operation of a motorized bicycle on a bicycle path or  
          trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established as provided, equestrian  
          trail, or hiking or recreational trail.  AB 875 is currently in  
          the Assembly Transportation Committee, and its author is now a  








          AB 1096 (Chiu)                                      Page 6 of ?
          
          
          co-author on AB 1096.
          
          AB 2173 (Bradford, Chapter 60, Statutes of 2014) - increases the  
          maximum horsepower allowed under state law for electric scooters  
          and mopeds from two to four.
          
          Assembly votes:

            Floor:    74-0
            Appr:     17-0
            Trans:    15-0
          
          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  Yes


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          June 17, 2015.)

          SUPPORT:  

          California Bicycle Coalition (sponsor)
          Currie Tech Corporation
          Bicycle Product Suppliers Association
          Felt Racing, LLC
          People for Bikes
          Yuba Bicycles, LLC

          OPPOSITION:

          None received

          
          

                                      -- END --