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New e-bike rules take effect in Carlsbad

New laws intended to rein in the rapid increase of accidents involving electric bicycles, scooters and other motorized mobility devices took effect Thursday in Carlsbad.

It’s now illegal, for example, to carry a passenger on the handlebars, the floorboard or anywhere else on a bicycle or scooter that was not specifically made for additional riders.

Also forbidden is riding one of the motorized devices on sidewalks, public drainage facilities, culverts, ditches, channels, sports courts or gymnasiums, city officials said in a news release Thursday.

Riders must dismount their device whenever they approach within 50 feet of a pedestrian or horseback rider on a trail less than 5 feet wide, the new rules state. Mobility devices used by people with disabilities are exempt.

Violators could be fined up to $100 under the ordinance approved by the Carlsbad City Council earlier this year. First-time violators will be encouraged to complete a Police Department safety course in lieu of paying the fine.

Previously, Carlsbad police could only cite e-bike violators under the California Vehicle Code, which has limited applications for electric bicycles and other personal mobility devices.

Police officers documented 39 collisions involving bicycles or e-bikes in 2020, then 63 collisions in 2021, and this year, the number is on track to be higher, according to the Police Department.

Injuries occurred in 163 of the 186 bicycle or e-bike collisions reported to police between January 2019 and December 2021. Also, the operator of the bicycle or e-bike was at fault in 72 of 99 collisions reported from January 2020 through July 2021, according to the Police Department.

The city and Carlsbad Unified School District will host a bicycle and e-bike safety workshop for parents and students from 6 to 7 p.m. May 24 at the Pine Avenue Community Center. Anyone interested should RSVP student services specialist Rosemary Eshelman at [email protected]