Octa's transportation blog

All About E-Bikes in Orange County

E-bikes are becoming an increasingly popular transportation alternative thanks to their energy efficiency and low operation costs. A new OCTA webpage explains what to know about riding and operating an e-bike in Orange County.

An e-bike is an electric bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of up to 750 watts. They do not need registration, licensing or insurance like a car or motorcycle.

The same rules of the road that apply to human-powered bicycles apply to all types of e-bikes and human-powered bicycles with the exception of where different types of e-bikes can operate. E-bikes may operate on sidewalks but are subject to local sidewalk riding ordinances (check your city’s municipal code for more details).

Bicyclists and e-bike riders are subject to all the same rules of the road as motorists. Riders who don’t follow the rules are subject to ticketing and fines as defined by the Vehicle or Municipal Code in which they are riding.

Guidelines include:

  • Riders 17 years and under must wear a helmet
  • Traffic lights, signs, and signals apply to all road users, including bicyclists and e-bike riders
  • Cyclists must ride to the right of the road as practical. If you're riding slower than traffic, ride in the bike lane. You can leave the bike lane to turn left, pass someone, avoid a road hazard or avoid cars turning right
  • You must stop at crosswalks for pedestrians
  • Be aware of other road users and try to match the average speed. This means riding slowly in areas with pedestrians
  • Observe and follow speed limits on Class I bicycle facilities
  • Must stop at red lights
  • Must stop before right turn at red lights
  • Must stop at stop signs
  • Riding against the flow of traffic is prohibited
  • Cyclists must ride to as close to the right edge of road as practical
  • Proper reflective and lighting equipment must be used during night operation
  • When a bicycle lane is available, bicyclists are required to use the bike lane unless they are traveling as fast as traffic
  • It is illegal to carry passengers on your e-bike unless your bike has an extra permanent seat or when using a child safety seat
  • The "sharrow" symbol below means the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to share safely side by side. Bicyclists should discourage unsafe passing by riding towards the middle of this narrow lane. Bicyclists have a right to the road, even if no sharrow is present

Drop by the website to learn about the different types of e-bikes, Orange County’s e-bike regulations for trails, and more.