CalBike Calls on Southern California Cities to Reverse Discriminatory Bicycle Regulations

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SACRAMENTO, California (October 5, 2023) — At a time when California communities should be encouraging more biking and walking, several cities in Southern California have responded to more people getting on bikes by imposing fines and restrictions.

Studies show that most people are interested in cycling, but are scared off by the dangers of moving traffic. Separated bike lanes help make cycling feel safe and attractive to more people, including novice riders, women, children, and the elderly. Photo by Paul Krueger. CC BY 2.0 DEED, Attribution 2.0 Generic

“Not only do these regulations conflict with state law,” says CalBike executive director Kendra Ramsey, “but we know they will be enforced disproportionately against people of color. We need fewer punitive regulations, not more.”

Examples of the bicycle restrictions imposed by Southern California cities:

    • Carlsbad: After a speeding driver ran a stop sign and hit and killed a woman riding an e-bike in 2022, the city imposed restrictions on e-bikes.

    • Encinitas: After a teenager riding an e-bike was hit and killed by a van driver while “doing everything right” (according to witnesses), the city declared an e-bike emergency.

    • Manhattan Beach: The city has enacted laws governing bike riding that conflict with state law and carry penalties up to $1000 for violations.

    • Huntington Beach: The city adopted bike regulations similar to those in Manhattan Beach, empowering police to impound people’s bicycles and fines up to $500.

Bicycle use is regulated at the state level. While local jurisdictions have some leeway to impose local regulations, things such as where bikes can operate on the road and e-bike access to bike paths are dictated by state law. 

CalBike calls on these and other cities to stop discriminating against people who ride bikes. The best way to ensure bike safety is to build complete, protected bikeways. We encourage every California community to prioritize the infrastructure to make biking safe.

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