Huntington Beach is Clamping Down on Defiant E-Bike Riders

March 2, 2021 Updated: March 2, 2021

Huntington Beach will enforce its existing law banning electric bicycles (e-bikes) from the beach and bicycle paths, following a March 1 city council meeting.

The move was attributed to the increasing popularity of e-bikes along the eight-mile Huntington Beach coastal trail.

Concerns over the power-assisted bikes have been voiced in letters of complaint to Huntington Beach staff and council, councilmembers said.

Councilmember Natalie Moser said she has received regular emails from people who “have been in accidents or almost been in accidents as a result of bikers on the path … a good portion of them were e-bikes.”

Huntington Beach has already banned e-bikes from its beaches, bike paths, and sidewalks. It limits bicycle speed to 10 miles per hour (mph) on the designated paths and 5 mph when pedestrians are present.

The city said it will begin enforcing the existing code April 5, when police could begin issuing citations.

Councilmember Mike Posey questioned whether a ban was necessary.

 “The beach trail is not for the exclusive use of pedestrians,” he told council. “It’s for everybody. If we really took a vigorous approach on speed enforcement, maybe that’s the answer.”

The Huntington Beach Police Department launched an e-bike education program on Feb. 16.

Officers have spoken with e-bike owners on the Huntington Beach Bicycle Trail, and visited bicycle retailers in the community.

“We’re down there with our motor officers stopping people if they’re speeding and using that engagement as a chance to say ‘speeding is illegal, as are e-bikes,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Julian Harvey told council.

“The goal is to prevent injuries from collisions. That’s why we’re concerned about this. The collision data does show … in the last six months, an increase in those involving e-bikes. That’s only going to increase. They are quite powerful and have instant torque.”

There have been 14 bicycle-related collisions reported, with 4 e-bike related, since 2019, said Huntington Beach’s director of public works Sean Crumby.

The city will add electronic signage at strategic points on the beach bike path that will take count of pedestrians and cyclists that pass by.

“The sign will be taking pedestrian and cyclist counts,” Crumby said. “This will help us to better design the path in the future. The counts will also help us to chase after grant opportunities and find funding to do improvements in the future.”

The signage will have a speed gauge to let bicyclists know how fast they are traveling.

The city is also investigating alternative pathways for e-bikes.