News Next Door: San Clemente Council To Tackle E-Bikes With Bans

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By C. Jayden Smith

San Clemente City Council decided on Tuesday evening, December 21, to begin work on a series of measures designed to maximize pedestrian safety throughout the city when it comes to bicycles and e-bikes.

Council members called on staff to come back with an ordinance banning e-bikes on the beach trail and all other trails, and voted to change the city code by banning the walking, pushing and parking of e-bikes and bicycles on the municipal pier.

The council also asked staff on Tuesday to increase bicycle racks at the base of the pier, as well as to come back with a report on the feasibility of banning and regulating the use of bicycles and e-bikes on sidewalks. of San Clemente.

Since February, the city has taken steps to increase safety for everyone on sidewalks, trails and near beaches and the municipal pier through public awareness and education on bicycle use.

Additionally, an online portal for the public to comment on e-bike incidents and close calls was made available in March and received 367 comments on Tuesday evening.

In May, city staff teamed up with the San Clemente Police Department to host a “Bike Safety Rodeo,” and the city released a video in June that included additional messages on how it works and how it works. general bicycle safety.

Samantha Wylie, Director of the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Department, presented a summary of a report of its staff on this. They saw an increase in the number of electric bicycles on foot, on horseback or parked along the pier, in which the latter action was not previously prohibited.

Wylie mentioned that people often used their e-bikes once they saw they could ride them without any hassle from the police or sheriff’s deputies.

“Based on this understanding and the investigation of what we are seeing, there is a recommendation tonight for council to order staff to bring back at least one code amendment to this municipal code … which specifies no future.” park, walk or push e-bikes (on the pier), ”said Wylie.

City staff also sought direction from council on the issue of e-bikes along the beach trail and anywhere else needed.

Several speakers commented on the danger of these vehicles in the streets and on the trails, referring to multiple incidents in which they have recently witnessed accidents or near misses.

“I also suggest that these vehicles, which I consider motor vehicles, be registered by the city with a plate so that a violation can be reported if it occurs,” Al Cullen said during public comments. “Otherwise, there is absolutely no way to let anyone know who rides this bike or what the bike is.”

“You get on it, put the throttle down, and you’re going 28 miles an hour. It’s not a bicycle, it’s a motorcycle, ”said Rick Loeffler, who sits on the city’s public safety committee, of e-bikes. “Remember 6 and 7 year olds can ride them, raise them, and we have to fix that. “

Board members Steve Knoblock and Laura Ferguson endorsed the staff recommendations and wanted to see some direction in terms of removing e-bikes from the sidewalks in San Clemente.

Board member Kathy Ward spoke about her interactions with high school students as they also wanted the limitations and general safety of e-bikes.

“They said they were seeing near misses and crashes almost every day,” Ward said. “It comes from our 17-year-olds, who cycle more often than we do.”

She added that the city should defer to California Assembly Bill n ° 1096, adopted in October 2015, which created three classes of electric bikes based on their speed capabilities and driving functions.

The bill also barred Class 3 electric bikes, which can reach 28 miles per hour or more, on specified paths or trails unless otherwise permitted, and gave local governments the power to ban electric bikes. class 1 or 2.

The main concern came from Pro Mayor Tem Chris Duncan, who raised the level of manpower needed to enforce potential code changes and ordinances. Mayor Gene James echoed these concerns. Duncan also supported the recommendations.

“I’m not sure if we have a community that we need to diligently monitor this,” Knoblock said. “I think if we say that (e-bikes) are not allowed and publish it, I think people will obey the law. These are the few that don’t that we can apply, so I am not concerned about the application.

The issue of e-bikes and sidewalk bicycles will receive continued attention until 2022, as the city hopes to clarify for pedestrians and cyclists which exact areas bicycles are prohibited.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before earning a bachelor’s degree in digital and audiovisual journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden enjoys college football and bothers his dark lab named Shadow.

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