E-bikes pose dangers to novice users, Huntington Beach police say

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Saturday, July 22, 2023
Huntington Beach Police cracking down on e-bikes
E-bikes are a popular way to get around Huntington Beach, but police say they pose dangers to those not familiar with the rules of the road.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- E-bikes have become one of the most popular ways to get around Huntington Beach, but they can be dangerous for those not familiar with the rules of the road.

Area resident Ron Caricchio uses his e-bike to get around.

"Well, to be able to go from your house down to the pier and maybe go to the second pier, Newport, Balboa. It's pretty fun," Caricchio said.

However, he said the battery powered bikes are also causing headaches. He said a lot of people speed down the area.

The Huntington Beach Police Department is aware of the hazards these bikes are creating.

"When they do ultimately get in accidents, we see greater injury because they're going faster with heavier bikes, and a lot of times e-bikes have opened up this world to people that aren't maybe the most comfortable cyclists, and they go faster than they really should be riding on bikes," HBPD Lt. Thoby Archer said.

He said new e-bike riders, especially kids, may not know the rules of the road, like stopping at stop signs.

"We just had a horrible accident with a 14-year-old girl who went right through a red light with AirPods in her ears, didn't stop at a red light and got hit by a vehicle. Didn't even see it coming," Archer said.

Police are now cracking down on those who misuse e-bikes. Archer said they are educating the public about the dangers.

In some cases, he said officers are handing out warnings or citations and even making arrests.

"The reality is there's at least the biking under the influence section that would apply, but also if they are riding what we would consider to be an illegal motorcycle or one of those ones that's capable of going far over the speed limit, then they would also be subject to be getting a DUI," Archer said.

E-bike riders like Caricchio said enforcement is necessary.

"If that's the only way for people to slow down and be safe, well then obviously I'm for it," Caricchio said.

The Huntington Beach Police Department is teaming up with local schools to educate teens about the importance of following the rules when riding e-bikes, but said if that does not work, then they'll continue to issue citations.