File #: REPORT 24-0065    Version: 1 Name:
Type: Action Item Status: Municipal Matter
File created: 2/7/2024 In control: City Council
On agenda: 2/15/2024 Final action:
Title: DISCUSSION REGARDING THE REGULATION OF BICYCLES AND ELECTRIC BICYCLES IN THE CITY (Continued from January 23, 2024) (City Attorney Patrick Donegan)
Attachments: 1. Draft Ordinance, 2. SUPPLEMENTAL ecomments for item 9 d (from 1/23/2024 meeting).pdf, 3. SUPPLEMENTAL ecomments for item 9 d.pdf

Honorable Mayor and Members of the Hermosa Beach City Council                                                                        

Special Meeting of February 15, 2024





(Continued from January 23, 2024)

(City Attorney Patrick Donegan)



Recommended Action:


Staff recommends City Council:

1.                     Receive and file information regarding the City’s existing electric bicycle regulations, as well as additional regulations implemented by other jurisdictions; and

2.                     Provide direction on whether additional bicycle and electric bicycle1 (“e-bike”) regulations are desired.



Executive Summary:

As requested by City Council at its September 12, 2023 and October 10, 2023 meetings, staff presents this report regarding the City’s existing electric bicycle (e-bike) regulations and possible options for further regulation of bicycles and electric bicycles. Further, enforcement options are provided and a draft ordinance (Attachment 1) is included to help guide the discussion only.



At its September 12, 2023 meeting, Councilmember Saemann requested, and Mayor Jackson supported, directing staff to return with an information item regarding the City’s current e-bike regulations and an update on what other jurisdictions are doing to address some of the negative impacts of e-bike use in its respective jurisdiction. At its October 10, 2023 meeting, the City Council discussed the item and expressed interest in further discussing specific regulations and enforcement options to address this issue.



1 HBMC § 10.04.010 defines electric bicycle into three different classes consistent with how the State defines them. However, for purpose of the City’s area-specific regulations, the City does not differentiate between the various classes of e-bike. State law does have some regulations dealing with helmets, age restrictions, and what class of bike path each class of e-bike can be operated on.





Existing City Regulation

The Hermosa Beach Municipal Code (“HBMC”) currently prohibits the use of e-bikes, while the electric-propelled power is in use, anywhere on the Strand, Pier Plaza, or beach (HBMC § 12.20.220.). Riders are permitted to ride on e-bikes on the Strand, Pier Plaza, or beach, as long as they do not utilize the electric motor or other electric propelled power. A violation of this section is an infraction. Enforcement of this type of regulation is challenging in cases where the speed of the rider makes it difficult to determine if the electric power is in use.


Section 12.28.010 (I) also limits the use of  bicycles and e-bikes in City parks to only those designated roads or drives provided for such purpose. Riding a bicycle or e-bike over grass, or other areas of a City park not designated for use by bicycles, is prohibited. A violation of this section is also an infraction.


Recent Enactments by Other Jurisdictions

The City is not alone in addressing the e-bike issue in its jurisdiction. At its September 5, 2023 meeting, the City of Manhattan Beach adopted an urgency ordinance regulating e-bikes in its jurisdiction. Among other things, its ordinance:

                     Prohibits riding on City sidewalks, plazas, grass areas, the Strand, parking structures owned or operated by the City, County, or State, and Veterans Parkway.

                     Prohibits riding at speeds over 15 miles per hour on the Marvin Braude Bike Trail (i.e. Beach Bike Path) and maintains the current “Walk Only Zone” on both sides of the pier.

                     Requires wearing of properly strapped helmets for all riders under 18 years of age.

                     Requires riders to use bike lanes where possible, and on streets without bike lanes, to ride close to the right curb or edge of roadway.

                     Requires riders to ride in single file, and not more than two abreast.

                     Prohibits riding on the back of a bicycle or e-bike without a seat.

                     Prohibits speeding, racing, or stunt activity.

                     Reaffirms requirements to yield to pedestrians at all times.

                     Stipulates that violations of the ordinance will result in a first-time fine of $500 and a misdemeanor charge. The second violation within a year will result in a $750 fine and will increase to $1,000 for each additional violation within a year of the first violation.


The Manhattan Beach urgency ordinance stipulates that violations of this new urgency ordinance may be prosecuted as “an infraction, misdemeanor, or administrative citation.” This is worth noting as most of the prohibited actions in the Manhattan Beach ordinance are likely prohibited in one way or the other in the City via existing Municipal Code provisions and/or the California Vehicle Code. However, reliance on the California Vehicle Code removes some measure of local control over the fine amounts and processing of the citations as violations of the Vehicle Code are processed and assessed (i.e., fine amounts) by State law and the court system.


At its September 19, 2023 meeting, the City of Huntington Beach introduced on first reading an amendment to its e-bike regulations. Among other things, this ordinance allows the impounding of the e-bike if it is being ridden by a juvenile and the juvenile is cited or arrested for a violation of the City’s e-bike regulations. The e-bike is then subject to release to a responsible adult upon the payment of an impound fee. The process of readily releasing the impounded e-bike likely curtails any due process arguments regarding the seizure of property in that no other requirements are required to get the e-bike back (e.g., admission of guilt for the underlying citation or arrest, completion of e-bike training, etc.).


Options for the City and Draft Ordinance

As e-bikes increase in popularity, other types of conveyances are now produced that do not fit neatly into the categories defined by existing State law regulating e-bikes. While not necessarily impactful to the City’s existing e-bike regulations, it indicates that the industry is one that will continue to change and evolve and is not limited in scope by existing State definitions.


The City’s existing ordinance is relatively unambiguous as it states that one cannot ride with electric power in use on the Strand, Pier Plaza, or beach. However, enforcement has proven somewhat challenging as being completely sure the electric power is in use is not always straightforward and the City’s Police Department has other enforcement responsibilities in the City.


A violation of the City’s e-bike regulations is limited to an infraction and the limited fine amount associated with an infraction, which is $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation of the same provision of the code within one year, and $500 for each additional violation of the same provision of the code within one year.


Existing regulations on e-bikes are found in two different sections based on the location for which the e-bikes are in use. Section 12.20.220 (Strand/Pier Plaza regulations) and 12.28.010 (regulations on City parks). Chapter 10.12 (Traffic Rules) also contains existing rules regarding bicycles, skateboards, and other wheeled devices in the City. Although regulations within the traffic rules are not geared toward the issues the City is facing with dangerous and prolific e-bike use, it is a logical place for City-wide e-bike regulation and related dangerous riding of bicycles. Thus, the attached draft ordinance (Attachment 1) proposes the addition of Section 10.12.175 specifically dealing with the operation and use of bicycles and Electric Bicycles e-bikes in the following ways:

                     Prohibiting the riding of bicycles, e-bikes and all other categories of wheeled devices in an unsafe manner.1

                     Requiring a properly fitted helmet for all riders under the age of 18.

                     Prohibiting riding on the back without a proper seat designed for carrying passengers.

                     Prohibiting the towing of other vehicles.

                     Prohibiting the attaching or getting towed/pulled by another vehicle when someone is riding/on the bicycle, e-bike or other wheeled device.

                     Prohibiting the parking of bicycles, e-bikes and all other categories of wheeled device outside of designated areas on Pier Plaza.

                     Prohibiting the operation under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

                     Yeilding to pedestrians when required.

                     Maintaining the prohibition on the use of e-bike motor on the Strand and only allow the riding of e-bikes in City parks in designated areas.


The draft ordinance also increases the enforcement options for City by making violations of this new section, as well as other City Municipal Code sections on e-bikes, subject to administrative citations and providing discretion to Hermosa Beach Police Department to impound any bicycle, e-bike, or other wheeled device ridden by a juvenile in violation of the City’s regulation or if an adult is riding any of these in a manner that is dangerous to others. Impounded bikes would be released upon the payment of an impound fee.


1 Defined to include, among other things, riding on a sidewalk without due caution for pedestrians; riding against flow of traffic, not yielding to other vehicles or pedestrians, intentionally swerving around stopped or slowed traffic, not obeying posted signs, and unsafe trick riding or racing.



Staff recommends City Council consider the City’s current regulations, options for not only additional operational regulations but also enforcement options and provide direction on the draft ordinance. If desired, City Council should direct staff to schedule a public hearing for formal consideration of an ordinance.


Fiscal Impact:

There is no fiscal impact associated with the recommended action.



Draft Ordinance



Respectfully Submitted by: Patrick Donegan, City Attorney

Legal Review: Patrick Donegan, City Attorney

Approved: Suja Lowenthal, City Manager