Electric Bikes

What qualifies as an e-bike?

An e-bike is an electric bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.

  • The same rules of the road that apply to human-powered bicycles apply to all types of e-bikes and human-powered bicycles.
  • Electric bicycles do not need registration, licensing or insurance like a car or motorcycle.
  • For a one page fact sheet of E-bike rules and classes click here.

E-Bike Types

California designates three classes of electric bicycles. Knowing the class of your electric bicycle will tell you where and how you can ride.

Class 1: pedal-assisted e-bike

  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.
  • Equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.
  • Power maxes out at 20 mph.

Class 2: throttle-assisted e-bike

  • Allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed.
  • Equipped with a throttle-actuated motor.
  • Power maxes out at 20 mph.

Class 3: pedal-assisted e-bike

  • Allowed in bike lanes or separated bikeways adjacent to the roadway.
  • Not allowed on trails.
  • Riders must be 16 years old and all ages must wear a helmet.
  • Power maxes out at 28 mph. Any e-bike that can go over 28 mph is not street legal.
  • Equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.

Rules of the Road

Bicyclists and e-bike riders are subject to all the same rules of the road as motorists. Riders who don’t follow the rules are subject to ticketing and fines as defined by the Vehicle or Municipal Code.

Make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Riders 17 years and under must wear a helmet.
  • Traffic lights, signs and signals apply to all road users, including e-bike riders.
  • Cyclists must ride to the right edge of the road as practical. If you're riding slower than traffic, ride in the bike lane. You can leave the bike lane to turn left, pass someone, avoid a road hazard or avoid cars turning right.
  • Sidewalks and cross walks are meant for pedestrians. Dismount and walk your e-bike in these areas. You must stop at crosswalks for pedestrians.
  • Dismount and walk your e-bike or similar motorized device on trails less than 5 feet wide when within 50 feet of a pedestrian or horseback rider.
  • Do not attach a bicycle, e-bike or similar motorized device to any moving vehicle or motorized or non-motorized wheeled device with an operator or rider on board.
  • Be aware of other road users and try to match the average speed. This means riding slowly in areas with pedestrians.
  • Must stop at red lights.
  • Must stop before right turn at red lights.
  • Must stop at stop signs.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic is prohibited.
  • Riding against the flow of traffic is prohibited.
  • Proper reflective equipment must be used (during night operation).
  • When a bicycle lane is available, bicyclists are required to use the bike lane unless they are traveling as fast as traffic.
  • It is illegal to carry passengers on your e-bike unless your bike has an extra permanent seat or when using a child safety seat.

California’s e-bike law for trails

  • In California State Parks, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles may be allowed where bicycles are allowed as long as they’re not specifically called out as prohibited.
  • Santa Clara County Parks and San Jose Parks both permit e-bikes to travel anywhere that ordinary bicycles are permitted to travel. respective areas based on California Law AB 1096, which states that Type-1 and Type-2 e-bikes are permitted on any paved surface that any regular bicycle is permitted to travel. 
  • Contact California State Parks for more information.


  • Most e-bikes are not equipped to carry passengers. E-bikes can only transport passengers if there is a designated spot for passengers and transportation can be carried out safely.
  • Passengers are required to wear a helmet if they are under 18.
  • Class 3 e-bike riders must not transport passengers.


  • Wear high-visibility clothing. Being seen is essential.
  • Use a white front light, red rear light and reflectors.


E-bikes are lucrative targets for thieves. Take every precaution to ensure that your e-bike is safe. 

  • When done using your bike, put it away - inside if possible and out of site.
  • When out and about on your bike, always lock it securely and keep an eye on it.
  • Use a good lock. Make sure your lock has a high-security rating and learn to use it wisely.
  • Where to lock it? Look for something totally immovable that can't be cut.
  • How to lock it? Lock at the lowest point possible between bike frame and the locking object or cycle stand. This makes access and leverage points harder for thieves. Lock the frame and one wheel to the stand.
  • If you have parts or components that are easily removed, take them with you.