West Hollywood Has Now Banned Riding Electric Bikes on Sidewalk

A Wheels dockless electric bike

It’s official. The City of West Hollywood has banned the riding of electric bikes on city sidewalks. The proposed ban was initially brought forward on June 17, when it got the support of Council members John Heilman, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister. Mayor John D’Amico and Councilmember John Duran opposed it. Last night was the second reading of the ordinance, which means the ban now takes effect.

City law currently allows those riding bicycles to move to a city sidewalk if they are on a street without a designated bicycle lane so long as they ride in the same director as traffic in the adjacent street. However, those riding electric bikes, which are permissible in bike lanes and traffic lanes, cannot ride on sidewalks at any time. There are three types of electric bikes:

— Class 1 is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.

— Class 2 is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.

— Class 3 is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.

Dockless electric bikes have begun popping up on city sidewalks in recent months, with many of them branded Wheels, which is headquartered in West Hollywood. While it calls itself an electric bike, apparently it doesn’t qualify as such because it lacks movable pedals. It could be considered an electric scooter, differing from those produced by Lime and Byrd in that it offers a seat and pedals on which to rest one’s feet.

West Hollywood in June 2018 enacted a ban on electric scooters, which one cannot rent from a sidewalk within the city limits. However, like electric bikes, they can be easily rented on sidewalks on Melrose Avenue and La Brea Avenue on the city’s boundaries and ridden into West Hollywood.

The City Council in March approved an 18-month pilot project that will allow a limited number of dockless bikes to operate in West Hollywood. The city has issued a request for proposal from dockless bike companies. That project replaces the WeHo Pedals program, which involved bicycles docked at particular sidewalk stations that could be rented using a mobile phone app.WeHo Pedals didn’t generate the advertising revenue the city hoped for and sustained a considerble loss.It will end on Aug. 30.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erred in describing the Wheels bike as an electric bike. Thanks to comments from our readers, we have learned that Wheels does not meet state standards for an electric bike because it lacks movable pedals. The story has been updated to correct the error.

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