Temecula Mayor James Stewart announced plans for the City to re-examine local regulations and create more awareness about e-bike safety throughout 2024 as the popularity of e‑bikes continues to grow.
Mayor Stewart states, "E-bikes are emerging as both an efficient mode of transportation and a fun outdoor recreational opportunity that the City whole-heartedly supports, but we need to ensure riders are following the law for their own protection as well as those who travel along the same roads and trails." Of particular concern are young riders who lack experience navigating through traffic and are more inclined to engage in reckless biking behaviors such as ignoring stop signs/traffic signals, riding at excessive speeds in pedestrian areas, crisscrossing roads in front of oncoming traffic and performing stunts in City parks and streets oblivious to the dangers they are posing to themselves and others.
Mayor Stewart highlighted the importance of examining existing laws and exploring additional regulations to keep riders safe, "We'll take a comprehensive approach that includes education and enforcement to ensure the safety of everyone sharing the City's roadways and trail system."
The City's Sheriff’s Department and Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) are partnering to raise awareness among the youth who are riding e-bikes to and from schools. Temecula Captain Chris Durham states, "Our goal is to avoid imminent tragedies by engaging with students, and also their parents who are likely unaware that their adolescent child or teenager is riding with little regard for safety; oftentimes illegally and without helmets." Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet on any type of bicycle or e-bike, and Class 3 e-bikes and e-motorcycles require helmets regardless of age. Temecula's 'Caught with your Helmet On' campaign has positively reinforced bike safety wherein deputies, school resource officers and other first responders provide gift cards to students they 'catch' riding with their helmet on. Additionally, Bike Temecula Valley, a local nonprofit organization, TVUSD and Sheriff personnel are promoting bicycle safety strategies and introducing Rules of the Road at school assemblies citywide.
The City's Sheriff Department and TVUSD are also implementing a plan that requires students attend mandatory free instructional classes given by the Sheriff's Department to be permitted to ride their e-bike or motorized scooter to or from school and park on campus beginning with the next school year. This program will educate students about the rules of the road, e-bike laws, helmet safety, interaction with vehicles and pedestrians, and more.
All cyclists (e-bike riders included) are subject to the same rules of the road as motorists. Cyclists who do not follow the laws are subject to ticketing and fines as defined by the California Vehicle Code or local Municipal Code. "If positive engagement, education, awareness, and warnings aren't adhered to, parents and their kids can expect that we will cite the rider and impound their e-bike if necessary," adds Captain Durham who further states, "This is not punitive; it is literally to save their life."
The subject of e-bike safety will be placed on the next Traffic Safety Commission meeting agenda for general discussion and direction. Members of the public are welcome to share their comments with the Commission about this important topic. The meeting will be held at City Hall on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at 6pm.