Aliso Viejo approved new regulations to control the use of motorized recreational transport like e-bikes in hopes of increasing public and cyclist safety.
City Council voted unanimously in September to give final approval to the ordinance that will amend the existing city code on regulating pedestrians, bicycles and skateboards as well as motorized recreational transportation. This amendment will now allow law enforcement officials to cite electronically powered modes of transportation that are gaining popularity in public spaces and private parks. The move follows widespread pressure from residents of Aliso Viejo for the city council to act.
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“It’s a really explosive event,” City Manager David Doyle said at the council meeting. “I don’t think I’ve seen more emails on a certain topic in a short period of time.”
Capt. Scott Merrill, the city’s police chief, also said motorized bicycles, scooters and boards have been the subject of one of the biggest complaints the department has seen in recent months. .
Other towns in Orange County also saw the popularization of motorized recreational vehicles. In January, San Clemente banned the use of e-bikes on the pier, beaches and some trails after debating the issue since 2018. The California Department of Parks and Recreation banned the use of e-bikes in parks in San Clemente. state last year, limiting their use of designated areas and public roads.
Aliso Viejo’s new ordinance will prohibit motorized vehicles from sidewalks in densely populated areas, especially shopping complexes or sidewalks near school buildings, churches or recreation centers while using these facilities. All forms of motorized transportation are also prohibited in parking lots or city-owned and/or operated properties, according to a city staff report.
On sidewalks where traffic is permitted, a 5 mph speed limit will be enforced for all vehicles. The City’s director of public works must post and maintain signs adjacent to the sidewalks indicating the limits and prohibitions of the sector.
Motorized boards and scooters are not permitted in public parks except in designated areas established by the Director of Public Works or for private parks by the owner of the park. E-bikes are only permitted on designated trails or roads. In these areas, the speed limit for e-bikes is 10 mph. There are three different classes of e-bikes that set age requirements and other rules for riders. This regulation applies to all, according to the ordinance.
Mayor Ross Chun emphasized that all of these conditions are established to prioritize the reduction of collisions and injuries.
“Public safety and rider safety are considered and targeted,” Chun said.
Aliso Viejo resident Brad Trevethan owns an electric scooter, motorized board and electric toddler bike. Trevethan has witnessed the risks associated with reckless driving of these motorized vehicles.
“I’m okay with the sidewalk speed limit,” Trevethan said in a recent park interview.
He said he saw a child riding too fast on an electric bike almost collide with a woman and her dog.
The proposed ordinance gives “law enforcement the ability (to) issue citations in public and private parks, provided appropriate signs are posted,” according to the city staff report.
Merrill, the police chief, said often a warning comes first.
City manager David Doyle told the council meeting that the city wants users to understand the impacts of their activity.
“Our focus has always been education,” he said.
Merrill explained that citations become necessary when the educational approach does not work.
City says primary focus of new ordinance is to ensure that everyone who drives these vehicles does so in a safe manner and, therefore, to reduce the number of traffic collisions involving these vehicles.
This order will come into effect on October 21.