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Regulations for E-Bikes / Electric-Assist Bicycles and Other Non People-Powered Bikes — in Monterey County and Elsewhere

Short link to this page: https://bit.ly/eBikeLaws

Hey, what kind of bicycles is this sign referring to?
Puzzled? You’re not alone.
Regulations about e-bikes and similar bicycles are in a state of flux around the United States. Misinformation and confusion abound. It’s advisable to take personal responsibility for researching what the regulations are where you ride.
As the California Bicycle Coalition (“CalBike”) says, “Electric bikes are quickly becoming the ‘vehicle of choice’ for thousands of Californians.” And e-bike enthusiasts—ranging from bike industry leaders to environmental groups to CalBike—are supporting efforts to bring more consistency and clarity to e-bike regs.

Disclaimer: As always, no claim is made or liability accepted for use of this website. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, contact resources cited or appropriate government officials. To help maintain and expand this site’s resources, click here for ways to contribute and FAQS.

Here are some starting

points for your own research.

NOTE: As advised in People for Bikes overview for consumers and retailers, “Local authorities and public agencies with jurisdiction over bicycle paths or trails may also prohibit the operation of any type of electric bicycles on a particular path or trail.”

  1. U.S., including state-by-state guides http://peopleforbikes.org/our-work/e-bikes/.
  2. California-specific: CA law defines e-bikes into three types, based on speed and power control. Learn more from CalBike, and view fact sheets about e-bike laws, including CA Assembly Bill 1096: http://www.calbike.org/e_bikes
  3. Monterey County-specific: You may wish to start with the info below. For all Monterey County e-bike regulations not covered here, and for any corrections or updates, contact the bike-ped coordinator at the Transportation Agency for Monterey County.
    Fort Ord National Monument: Refer to the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/california/fort-ord-national-monument or contact the Central Coast field office. As of 12/17/15, as confirmed to Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) by Eric Morgan, manager of the Fort Ord National Monument: BLM views e-bikes as motor vehicles, and motor vehicles are not allowed on Fort Ord National Monument. Read the 7/1/15 memo from the BLM regarding “Electronic Powered Bicycles on Public Lands”: https://www.blm.gov/policy/ib-2015-060. As further confirmed by Morgan on 12/17/15, on the Fort Ord National Monument, the roads BLM oversees are closed to motor vehicles, hence they are also closed to e-bikes. For any possible future changes that may allow e-bikes, Segways, and such on the roads of the Monument, check with the BLM: https://www.blm.gov/programs/know-before-you-go  / The POTUS 45 administration has made some changes regarding BLM lands. Many links on the BLM site need updating, so do your research carefully.
    http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/nlcs/Fort_Ord_NM/Know_Before_You_Go.html
    Pebble Beach: PB is private property, although subject to California Coastal Commission regulations about access. As Bicycling Monterey’s Bicycling Pebble Beach tips stated, if you have an electric bicycle, no problem. However, if your wheels are in the scooter category—such as a two-stroke—be forewarned: Scooters, as with motorcycles, are not admitted to PB.  As of 7/26/12, as the Pebble Beach Company website indicated, motorcycles are prohibited on 17-Mile Drive. For any changes to policies, contact Pebble Beach Company.

    Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST): MST is a popular bike-and-ride option. MST’s Rider’s Guide includes How to Ride–Transit Tips. Click on Transit Tips, then scroll down for “Bicycles on Buses” and “Bike Loading Instructions.”

    As of 10/31/17, here’s an excerpt from MST’s website (for any changes, refer to MST.org or contact MST): “[a] Bicycles longer than 80 inches (6.5 feet) and higher than 54 inches (4.5 feet) will not be allowed on the bike rack. [b] Total weight placed on the bike rack shall not exceed 250 pounds. [c] Bicycles with electric motors are allowed provided that the external battery is securely mounted, sealed, and of the nonspillable type. Bicycles with wet-cell non-sealed batteries (like most car or motorcycle batteries) are prohibited. [d] Motorized bicycles with gas-powered engines of any kind are prohibited.” Advisory: On 12/17/15, Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious offered this additional info:  “Many (all?) ebikes exceed 50 lb weight limit for bus bike racks, even if agency otherwise allows.” Tip: Considering removing your battery before putting your bike on the bus rack, and carrying the battery inside the bus. An e-bike with a total weight, e.g., of 50 lbs might have a battery weight of 7 lbs. Bottom line: Check with MST if you have questions about whether the weight of your bike might be a problem.

Other Monterey County locations: Additional info is provided below.

SIGN - prohibit motorized - City of Mtry near Casa Verde (9)

What about the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network’s coastal bike path / multi-use trail — or other paths or trails?
As California DMV laws state, motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike paths, or lanes unless allowed by local authorities. Click here for CVC 21207.5. And as advised, various Monterey County cities have differing laws and policies, and their police departments may appropriately ticket offenders accordingly.
A two-page summary about “Motorized Vehicles on Bike Paths” was provided by Transportation Agency for Monterey County staff member Ariana Green at TAMC’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee meeting on 2/4/15. For full details, download PDF here: Motorized Vehicles on Bike Paths – Monterey County – as of 4 Feb 2015. Ms. Green summarized that for Monterey County:
  • no motorized bicycle or moped is allowed on a bicycle path or trail
  • no pocket bike is allowed on a bicycle path or trail
  • no motorized scooter is allowed on a bicycle path or trail within the City of Monterey – “Section 22-12.5 Prohibition of Motorized Scooters on the Recreational Trail. No person shall operate any motorized scooter as that term is defined in CA Vehicle Code on the Recreation Trail (Ord 3330;10/2003).”
  • motorized scooters may be operated on bicycle path or trail in all other cities and (unincorporated sections of) the county (except for city of Monterey)

Archived note regarding Monterey County: non people-powered bikes – as of April 2013.

Archived notes regarding history of California legislation:
  • To clear up some confusion resulting from contradictory rules throughout California, “AB 875 would create a new category of electric bike, the ‘low speed electric bicycle,’ and exempt a low-speed electric bicycle from the prohibition of motorized bicycles on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail. This rule was among the items on the California Bicycle Coalition 2015 legislative agenda.”
  • On October 7, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1096. Please refer to CalBike.org for detailed info on this bill: https://calbike.org/governor_signs_bill_to_improve_e-bike_access/ . Here is an excerpt: “AB 1096 clarifies the definition of electric motor-assisted bicycles by defining three specific classes of e-bikes: bikes with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that must be pedaled to operate; those with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that can be operated without pedaling; and bikes with a top assisted speed of 28 mph. By regulating these bikes differently than mopeds, AB 1096 will enable a reexamination of the access restrictions imposed on users of these bikes in order to permit more access to bicycle paths, where appropriate and safe.”
Related info on this site
Some Monterey County local bike shops and bicycle rentals include e-bikes.

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