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A man rides an electric folding bike on the boardwalk near the Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach on Thursday, August 13, 2020. E-bikes have gained in popularity in recent years and even more so this past summer, as people are left during the coronavirus shutdowns with fewer options for entertainment and exercise. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Manhattan Beach is cracking down on electric bicycle safety starting Saturday, Jan. 30.

There aren’t any new rules, said Tim Zins, PIO for the city’s police department, but with a recent influx of complaints about people riding e-bikes on the sidewalks, The Strand, and speeding, extra traffic officers will be out in the city’s streets to educate and enforce state and local bicycling laws.

“It really started over the summer, and with kids not being (physically) in school (this winter) there have been complaints of kids not wearing helmets and not stopping at stop signs,” Zins said. “So we’re just stepping up our enforcement and education.”

Under Manhattan Beach’s municipal code, Zins said, people have to pedal e-bikes when riding them on the beach bike path, only using the electric motor when traveling down to the path. Some have been e-biking down the path at 15 to 20 mph, he added, which is the illegal part. Bicycles of any kind are not allowed on The Strand.

Manhattan Beach tried encouraging e-bike safety through social media in December, Zins said, but complaints continued. Along with strengthening efforts of the police department’s traffic team, safety messaging will continue to be shared on social media and through Nixle alerts.

“This should just be common sense,” Zins said, “You don’t do 60 mph in a 20 mph zone because you could get hurt or killed.”

California’s classification of types of e-bikes are:

  • Class 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
  • Class 2: Bicycles equipped with a throttle-actuated motor, that cease to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
  •  Class 3: Bicycles equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that cease to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28 mph.

Helmets are required for all class 3 e-bike riders; those younger than 16 years old can only ride as passengers on class 3 e-bikes.

Hermosa Beach, however, beefed up their enforcement earlier this week, said Laura Mecoy, PIO for that city. Hermosa’s police department started on Jan. 24 a special enforcement bike and pedestrian safety effort with a focus on e-bikes.

After 28 citations and many warnings were issued that upon the effort, Hermosa Beach Police Chief Paul LeBaron said during a council meeting earlier this week that the department plans to continue the special enforcement efforts monthly.

On Hermosa Beach’ portion of The Strand, Mecoy said, people can ride up to 8 mph with human-powered pedaling only.

In July, e-bike sales in Manhattan Beach were up 918%, and more than 800% in Hermosa Beach, compared to the same period in 2019.

More enforcement in Manhattan Beach, though, doesn’t necessarily mean hefty tickets for violators, Zins said.

“Every situation will dictate its own outcome,” he said. “If an officer sees multiple violations where they feel a person needs citation, then they will cite them. If an officer sees one minor violation, person may just get a verbal warning or warning citation.”

“What we want out of this is for nobody to get hurt,” Zins said. “Ride with traffic, obey speed laws and stop at stop signs.”

Staff writer Michael Hixon contributed to this report.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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