California's Assembly Bill 130 would establish a driver's license for e-bikes and set an age minimum of 12. Legislators are concerned that children who have never been exposed to traffic laws are taking e-bikes to the streets.
I see both sides living in one of Los Angeles' most bike-able and walkable areas, the Venice Beach boardwalk. There is a fantastic bike path (the Marvin Braude trail) slightly separated by a stretch of sand from the pedestrian free-for-all but cyclists, skateboarders, e-scooters, roller skaters and bladers, pedicabs and e-bikes fly through the crowd all day long. The thing is, age doesn't seem to be a limiting factor for ignorant behavior. A handwritten sign reminds drivers not to take their cars on the boardwalk at its northern terminus and has been there for a week or more. People are stupid.
E-bikes can also be too stealthy for people to determine quickly. I have a battery hidden in my downtube and a hub motor that looks like a part of the belt drive. I think this law is likely to be more a reason to harass black and brown children than it is for their safety.
I also think some of the faster, stronger, better e-bikes are electric motorcycles or e-motorscooters and could be regulated as such. Require a M2 Motorcycle Certificate and Insurance for stuff that goes beyond a determined speed, or can carry X amount of weight. They are likelier to have bad things happening with them; smaller bikes can be regulated like their pedal-powered precursors.
Assembly Bill 530, which will soon enter committee, would require both an online written test and a state-issued identification for riders who do not have a driver's license. The bill would also ban riders under 12 years old from riding e-bikes.
According to reports, the bill would create an e-bike training program and would work with several organizations, including the DMV and California Highway Patrol, to help educate riders who haven't yet learned the rules of the road through a typical driver's education course.
Assembly Member Tasha Boerner explained that the creation of a driver's license for previously unlicensed e-bike riders is a matter of safety:
"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."