California Highway Patrol releases e-bike safety program as required by Tasha Boerner’s AB 1946

Solana Beach City Council
Solana Beach City Council recently approved an ordinance to help improve safety for bicyclists. Encinitas and Carlsbad have already adopted similar traffic safety regulations with diversion programs for bicycles.
(Phil Diehl/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The California Highway Patrol released an online e-bike safety program, as required by a state law that the governor signed last year.

The law, AB 1946, authored by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, D-Encinitas, was signed by the governor last fall. It gave CHP a September 2023 deadline to release an e-bike program in response to the rise in e-bikes on California roads, which has led to a rise in traffic collisions involving e-bikes.

“I am excited to see the release of the California Highway Patrol’s e-bike training program,” Boerner said in a statement. “I’m especially grateful for their time and effort spent collaborating with a diverse group of relevant stakeholders. I hope every e-bike rider takes the time to review e-bike safety, emergency maneuver skills, rules of the road, and other laws related to e-bikes.”

The online course has 11 sections that cover topics such as proper equipment and gear, rules of the road and bicycle laws, avoiding hazards and best practices.

AB 1946 was approved last year by the state Assembly 73-0, with seven members not voting, and 37-0 in the Senate, with three not voting, before being signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Local cities have also been taking steps to improve bicycle safety. Encinitas and Carlsbad have adopted diversion programs, which allow first-time violators to take an approved online safety course when they receive citations on their bicycles or e-bikes. The Solana Beach City Council also recently approved an ordinance, which is pending a second reading next month, that would include a diversion program.

Another bill by Boerner, AB 530, would require e-bike riders to pass an online test and get a state-issued identification card if they don’t have drivers licenses. The bill, which isn’t headed for the governor’s desk this year, would also ban children 12 and under from riding e-bikes. It has been met with some opposition from e-bike enthusiasts who agree that new riders, especially children, should take to the roads on e-bikes with more education, but also think the requirements in the bill would be overly burdensome.

“Having photo IDs, getting the DMV involved, I don’t know if it will kill the movement,” Solana Beach resident Karl Rudnick, an instructor with the League of American Bicyclists who teaches e-bike safety classes, said in a recent interview. “Not sure it would change it. I don’t even know how you’d enforce it. Kids don’t run around with ID. It sounds like a nightmare.”

Solana Beach Deputy Mayor David Zito echoed that sentiment during a recent council meeting: “If we’re going to send all these kids to the DMV, that will kill the movement,” referring to local children who ride their e-bikes to school.

Boerner said in a statement last month that AB 530 is at the start of a “long process” that will continue with meetings this fall.

“As a mother and a legislator, I believe that we must act to prevent our youth from injuries and educate parents on the promise and responsibility of e-bikes, and AB 530 is another step to increase their safety while sharing the road,” she said in the statement. “Not every parent is a bike rider that can ensure our youth receive proper training.”