E-Bikes Banned on Popular San Clemente Sand Beach Trail – Orange County Register

San Clemente bans e-bikes from its beach trail and beaches, but authorities stopped short of expanding the limitation to interior trails.

The city council’s decision this week comes after a year of discussions about how to better control the chaos of e-bikes on the popular beach trail as the city grapples with the influx of faster bikes in recent years.

E-bikes allow people to travel longer distances and move faster. But there can be a downside, including careless cyclists passing pedestrians on narrow paths and sidewalks, a problem the city is trying to curb with its new rules.

  • People walk on their e-bikes near the pier in San Clemente, Calif., Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The city council voted to ban e-bikes on the beach trail, but stopped short of expanding the limitation to interior trails. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Registry/SCNG)

  • San Clemente voted to ban e-bikes from the beach and sand trail on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. (Photo by Laylan Connelly/SCNG)

  • The city council voted to ban e-bikes on the beach trail in San Clemente, Calif., seen here Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The city stopped short of expanding the limitation to interior trails. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Registry/SCNG)

  • The city council voted to ban e-bikes on the beach trail in San Clemente, Calif., seen here Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The city stopped short of expanding the limitation to interior trails. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Registry/SCNG)

The council has decided to ban all bikes from the area of ​​Corto Lane, a thin stretch of beach path that stretches about 300 yards from the base of the pier.

Speakers at the Tuesday, January 18 meeting were mixed about e-bike use in the city, with some saying the problems on the beach trail don’t exist on the inland trails, allowing older cyclists to go out for exercise or provides access to more of the city.

President Susan Ambrose supported banning e-bikes from the beach and the beach path, saying it was about 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.”

She and others wondered if requiring a license plate and registration might help. City workers said it would be difficult, but they would receive input from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department before the city’s next “bike rodeo,” a bicycle safety program held annually.

Another reviewer talked about riding e-bikes on the beach trail for about 10 years and wondered if they could be allowed at specific times of the day or during slower seasons.

“I just hope we can find some kind of compromise,” she said, noting that more needs to be done to get young riders to break the rules.

Councilwoman Laura Ferguson said that since the discussion at the previous meeting about banning bicycles on interior trails, she had heard from several neighbors and residents who were unhappy with the inclusion of city trails.

“I’m on the trails at least five days a week, (and) I’ve been watching from my balcony on the weekends,” she said, noting that she saw a biker. “There is no problem. Why have a law dealing with a non-problem? E-bikes have really just revived (people’s) interest in exercise and the outdoors.

Councilor Kathy Ward noted that rules against motorized bicycles already exist and that e-bikes should fall into this category.

“It has a motor, it’s an electric motor,” she said, noting that there have been several accidents on the trails. “The blurring of lines for what is a motorcycle and an e-bike is a problem.”

There is a global e-bike safety issue, Councilman Gene James said.

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

An increase in e-bike accidents and injuries over the past year has prompted hospitals, police departments and town halls across Southern California to build community outreach to educate cyclists on the need for safety when riding bikes that can reach up to 20 mph or even 30 mph.

According to Mission Hospital statistics, there were six pediatric e-bike injuries in 2020. In 2021, the hospital had 38 in the first 10 months through October.

Adult injuries were not tracked in 2020, but in 2021 there were 63 traumatic injuries in October. There have also been two deaths in recent months, both adults, one wearing a helmet and the other without.

Mission Hospital conducted riding safety awareness activities, including teaming up with local law enforcement and offering monthly helmets targeting young cyclists.

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