Huntington Beach will likely soon allow police officers to issue various citations for misusing e-bikes, or even impound them, in an effort to curb unsafe riding throughout the city.
The City Council, this week, supported making updates to the city’s bicycle regulations to include expanded definitions and give police officers the ability to issue criminal or civil citations to offenders.
“The laws that we have on the books now are confusing and vague,” Huntington Beach police Lt. Thoby Archer said. “Having a municipal code that creates a comprehensive section that covers all types of these conveyances at once gives us the ability to just write a ticket or take some sort of enforcement action.”
Electric bikes have exploded in popularity in recent years and hospitals have seen a rise in injuries, including among children.
This week, the council approved the first read of the ordinance in a 6-0-1 vote (Councilmember Pat Burns was absent). Councilmembers discussed possibly enacting the law at their next meeting as an emergency ordinance to make it go into effect immediately.
“We need to curb the e-bike problem that we have here in town,” Mayor Tony Strickland said.
Officials said the updated code targets people’s unsafe riding of the bicycles, which with the assist of an electric motor can travel at much faster speeds for longer distances than most people peddling under their own power. Examples include riding against the flow of traffic, including on the sidewalk, doing wheelies or going faster than 25 mph, officials said.
Archer said the Police Department has noticed they are often coming into contact with the same people for riding their e-bikes in a danger manner.
If a police officer issues a juvenile a citation for violating the city’s expanded e-bike laws, the officer could impound the bicycle under the new laws. The impound fee would likely be around $50 to $150, according to a memo from Capt. Bo Svendsbo.
It would be up to a police officer’s discretion to issue a civil or criminal citation, with the former usually coming with a smaller fine. Civil citations don’t go on someone’s record, Archer said.
People issued a criminal citation would either be referred to a one-day bicycle safety class or court.
Source: Orange County Register