Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian This man cruises along Park Avenue in Aptos on an eBike made by Gazelle.

A newly introduced Assembly bill could keep younger kids off  e-bikes, and require testing for others. But some in the industry say the rules go too far.

Every morning and afternoon throughout Santa Cruz County, hundreds of young people commute to school on bicycles powered by electric motors.

Also called e-bikes, the devices are capable of speeds nearing 30 mph. And the young people—almost none of whom have drivers licenses—weave through traffic, ignore traffic signs and worse.

“We’ve seen kids riding e-bikes without helmets,” said California Highway Patrol officer Israel Murrilo. “Furthermore, we’ve seen kids on an e-bike with two or more passengers without helmets.”

Many others modify their bikes to go faster than their design allows, Murrilo says.

Now, California Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner hopes to change that.

Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, has introduced Assembly Bill 2234, which would prohibit children under the age of 12 from operating e-bikes.

The bill would also require those over the age of 12 without a valid driver’s license to take an online safety training course and pass a written test. Those without a valid driver’s license must have a state-issued ID in order to operate an e-bike.

The numbers of injuries from e-bikes, Boerner says, are growing.

She cites the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which says there were 3945 e-bike injuries between 2011 and 2020. 

This number increased over time during that time, with 10–13-year olds making up 44% of those injuries. Children under the age of 14 made up 72% of e-bike injuries over the study period, the study shows.

“Owning and riding an e-bike is a big responsibility, and it is crucial that children and their parents understand the liability they take on when they get on an e-bike that can go nearly 30 miles per hour,” Boerner stated in a press release. “As an avid cyclist and a mother, my goal is to ensure that California’s young riders are educated on the rules of the road to increase their safety and the safety of other road users.”

The City of Carlsbad was one of the first jurisdictions to pass local e-bike safety laws, says City of Carlsbad Mayor Keith Blackburn.

“As a former police officer, I have seen the devastation of traffic fatalities firsthand,” Blackburn says. “We need to do everything we can to prepare young e-bike riders to ride safely on our streets.”

Not everyone is on board with the proposal, least of all the e-bike industry.

Bill Klehm, CEO of e-bike manufacturer eBliss Global said that, with far fewer young people getting drivers licenses—just 66% today compared to 100% a few decades ago—e-bikes have become a go-to travel mode for many.

Still, he says his company limits sales of its products to people 16 and older. 

“It scares me to death to think of a 12-year-old riding a device that will go 28 miles per hour,” he said. 

But he questions the wisdom of requiring classes and tests for young people.

“I think that’s taking bureaucracy to a level that is untenable, and I don’t see that as adding any value,” he says.

The bill has a long journey before it becomes law. It must go through the multi-step Assembly approval process, and then will advance to the Senate floor for the same treatment before landing on the Governor’s desk for final approval.

And it’s no sure bet whether any bill will make it that far, since they can be modified or killed at any step along the way. According to CalMatters, out of  2,600 bills introduced in 2023, just 1,046 passed. And of those, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed only 890, vetoing the rest.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA. https://pajaronian.com/r-p-reporter-honored-by-csba/


  1. You need a license for a bicycle.. but if you want to chop off your genitals you don’t even need parental consent. 🤡🌎

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  2. I think educating young folks of the rules and dangers of the road will benefit everybody.. Who will actually pay for and administer the classes?

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  3. Hundreds of kids, with no traffic training, are zipping in and out of traffic every day.
    Local law enforcement are seeing huge spikes in accidents involving our kids.
    If they are “electric”, no licenses or training is required, tho many of them can go 45 MPH by cutting the govenor wires….
    You aren’t doing your kid a favor by turning them loose on the streete with E-bikes…..

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