California wants to create a driver’s license for electric bikes

A driver’s license for an electric bike? It could be coming soon in California, believe it or not.

That’s if some state lawmakers who drafted Assembly Bill 530 get their way. The new bill has been proposed to create such a driver’s license in California.

The move is in response to many young electric bike riders who often take to the streets without having tested for or received a typical driver’s license for a standard car. That means they are often ignorant of many traffic laws and safety information.

While electric bicycles were more popular with older riders a decade ago, now they have proven highly sought after among riders of all ages. In addition to pure recreation, they’re also used as a popular form of alternative transportation. In fact, many young riders in cities are eschewing getting a driver’s license or a car altogether in favor of a smaller, cheaper, and more fun electric bikes.

Assembly Bill 530, which will soon enter committee, would require both an online written test and a state-issued identification for riders who do not have a driver’s license. The bill would also ban riders under 12 years old from riding e-bikes.

According to reports, the bill would create an e-bike training program and would work with several organizations, including the DMV and California Highway Patrol, to help educate riders who haven’t yet learned the rules of the road through a typical driver’s education course.

Assembly Member Tasha Boerner explained that the creation of a driver’s license for previously unlicensed e-bike riders is a matter of safety:

As a mother and a legislator, I believe that we must act to prevent our youth from injuries and educate parents on the promise and responsibility of e-bikes, and AB 530 is another step to increase their safety while sharing the road.

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Electrek’s Take

While the thought of a driver’s license for e-bikes will likely anger many riders who enjoy the freedom and lack of regulations surrounding e-bikes, I understand the logic. If you’re going to be riding on the road, you should have some form of training about the rules of the road.

It’s naive to expect someone who has never operated a vehicle on the road to understand things like right of way, roundabouts, blind spots, following distance, etc. There are also plenty of moving violations that many people might not realize they’re committing if they haven’t been taught.

In fact, where I live in Israel, we already have this exact type of license. Teenagers who aren’t old enough for a driver’s license but use an e-bike to get to school or meet up with friends have to take a short e-bike course that teaches them the rules of the road and gives them a license (though they are only eligible from age 16). It’s relatively painless and educational, so everyone wins. So I support it.

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