In 2016, the California legislature gave local jurisdictions the authority to decide whether e-bikes are allowed on their operated paths and trails. As a result, the Half Moon Bay City Council decided in April that e-bikes should not be permitted on the city-managed section of the California Coastal Trail from Kelly Avenue to south of Poplar Street.

Simultaneously, the council instructed its staff to draft an ordinance that permits various types of e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-boards on the Naomi Patridge and Eastside Parallel trails, with a designated speed limit.

However, the city of Half Moon Bay was unaware of another state law, Assembly Bill 1909. This law (which came into effect a year ago) introduced several changes to California’s Vehicle Code. These changes included the removal of language allowing jurisdictions to regulate the usage of Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes on paths and trails.

Consequently, the council’s suggestion contradicted state law. The city became aware of this legislation in mid-2023, according to the Half Moon Bay Review.

During a recent city council meeting, local politicians acknowledged that the April ban will soon be revoked. In its place, the councillors are planning to establish an 8 mph speed limit along the city-managed section of the Coastal Trail. This is in line with the California State Parks’s speed limit on trails located close to campgrounds.

Before becoming law, the 8 mph speed limit would undergo a review by the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. It would then proceed to the council for a vote.

The great e-bike debate

The e-bike ban along the Coastal Trail has elicited a variety of responses from the public.

Advocates argue that e-bikes encourage outdoor activity and active lifestyles. They also point out that e-bikes are an eco-friendly mode of transport, reducing an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 1,650 pounds of CO2 per year.

Critics, on the other hand, express concerns about riders speeding too easily and becoming a safety hazard. They also argue that e-bikes are too noisy for trail areas.

It remains unclear how authorities could effectively enforce the 8 mph speed limit if it becomes law.

Half Moon Bay is not the only city in the San Francisco Bay Area that’s concerned about e-bikes. In February, Palo Alto passed a law banning e-bikes in local nature preserves.

As Half Moon Bay backtracks on its e-bike ban, Palo Alto may soon be forced to follow suit.

Image Source: The California Coast,