E-bikes banned from San Clemente trails

The WSL Finals saw thousands of e-bikes parked at the event as spectators turned to electric power. Photo: @thestokelife


To say that San Clemente, California has a thing for e-bikes is an understatement. The photo above was taken during the 2021 WSL Finals in Lower Trestles as seemingly the entire town of San Clemente turned out to the event in style, leaving a line of parked e-bikes that stretched across hundreds of meters.

In other words, as is often the case with crowds in Southern California’s high-performance mecca, things got out of control. A recent report in the CO register details how bicycles have become ubiquitous. The town of San Clemente would have to have enough fast rides that can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. Specifically, residents and the city council are fed up with reckless cyclists, often young people who don’t even have their licenses yet, and the chaos they have created by weaving through and overtaking pedestrians and cyclists. non-electric on the narrow paths leading to San Clemente beaches. The trestles, being outside the city of San Clemente in San Diego County, are not part of the ban.

Last Wednesday, the San Clemente City Council delivered on its promise to fix the problem by enacting a ban that bans e-bikes from beaches and beach trails within city limits after a year of deliberation. The decision was met with mixed responses. Susan Ambrose, a speaker at Wednesday’s city council meeting, supported the decision, viewing it as a matter of public safety. “Nobody expected it would be so popular in San Clemente, especially on the beach trail,” she said. “I think the community would feel a lot safer without e-bikes on the coastal path.”

Other speakers weren’t so keen on the idea. One woman spoke about her experiences riding e-bikes on coastal paths over the past decade. “I just hope we can find some sort of compromise,” she said, while acknowledging that a problem exists, especially with young riders.

“It comes down to bad behavior,” said Councilman Gene James. “In most cases, there is a lack of parenthood.”

The nearby Mission Viejo Mission Hospital has kept statistics on e-bike injuries, which shows that in 2020 there were six e-bike injuries involving children, compared to 38 in the first 10 months of 2021. It remains to be seen whether this ban will have any impact on these numbers.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that e-bikes would be banned from Trestles. The San Clemente e-bike ban will not extend to Trestles, as the area is outside of San Clemente. Trestles is in San Diego County and is managed by California State Parks.

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