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By C. Jayden Smith

The determined enforcement of the recently introduced ordinance that will soon prohibit electric bicycles on San Clemente beaches, the Beach Trail and at the municipal pier is taking shape. 

Councilmembers last week voted unanimously to introduce the ordinance, which is expected to be formally adopted at their next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1—a full year after the council approved plans to launch a bike safety campaign and begin tracking reports of e-bike riders engaging in reckless behavior on the Beach Trail.

According to Samantha Wylie, the city’s Beaches, Parks, and Recreation Department director, several groups will coordinate to enforce the ordinance, including the Park Rangers, Code Enforcement officers and Marine Safety, as well as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. 

Wylie added that updated signage will also be posted, and enforcement will officially begin once the new signs are completed. The city expects the updates to be done before Memorial Day weekend.

Based on a review of the introduced ordinance and the city’s section on penalties in the municipal code, those caught riding e-bikes on the coastal trail, beaches and the pier could be fined up to $100 for the first offense, up to $200 for a second occurring within one year, and up to $500 for each additional violation within the same year. 

Pete Van Nuys, owner of Bicycles San Clemente in North Beach and executive director of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, suggested that the most effective strategy would include placing Park Rangers at both ends of the Beach Trail, where riders have to enter, and at the pier.

By flooding violators of the ordinance or the California Vehicle Code with citations that would result in fines, as Van Nuys suggested, a message could quickly be sent to all users.

At each of the meetings that touched on how the city would handle e-bikes, there was much discussion from public speakers who told numerous stories of scary experiences with oncoming bikes and wanted residents to have better knowledge of where and how to operate their e-bikes.

The city’s attempts to educate the public will continue, as Beaches, Parks & Rec is working with San Clemente Police Services to plan the upcoming second edition of the Bike Safety Rodeo for May 2022.

“The Recreation Division is also working to coordinate future e-bike safety workshops for youth and adults ahead of the summer season,” Wylie wrote in an email to San Clemente Times.

In a separate email, Mayor Gene James encouraged all to participate in the future sessions.

Wylie added that educating riders will be prioritized ahead of enforcement, to ensure that they are “well informed of changes” to the current code.

Since the use of e-bikes has skyrocketed, Van Nuys has heard people at his store say that they would not come back to the trail because they were no longer able to enjoy it. He believes the ban will return the trail to its status as a mellow and relaxing place.

James echoed Van Nuys’ sentiment, writing, “It takes all of us to contribute to a safer Beach Trail experience.”

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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comments (5)

  • Thank you City Council Members for taking this important public safety step to make our beautiful beach trails better for everyone, especially pedestrians. I’ve seen multiple accidents and near misses on the trail with e-bikes going 15-20+ mph past walkers, its like having a motorcycle blow past you within inches! Very scary, and many of us walkers will be much safer thanks to this new ordinance! Hats off to you all!

  • You better be able to run as fast as my ebike if you want catch me coppers. Bwahahaha!

  • yah when you ripp the twelve year old off the e bike maybe you can punch them in the mouth and bust there teeth out also.
    Instead of fixing the trail council pulls a gun . Forcing all onto the streets will cause other problems like death bring a sponge.
    A high breed high performance trail is possible with speed limits . From narrow minds comes narrow trails with steep crowns lined with skull crushing rocks and pointy plants .Lined with a train and ugly fence by a life guard building and a non shared parking lot with its 3 foot drop off.
    Instead of persecuting and controlling lets try improving and developing .

  • This just in 4800 Orange county sheriff deputies are in a slow speed pursuit of e-bikes , with deputies guns drawn perps appear to be pre teens and physically challenged adults with some surfers e-bikers on the periphery running for their lives to catch one last set , Oh my god what will happen next pot shots at construction workers because of ladders on their trucks
    be dep be dep be dep this just in all non Spanish architect homes will be burned to the ground and the DBA says it deserve all and everything
    be dep be dep be dep this just in council throws out rent payer’s and moves homeless into historic building in your neighborhood what’s next !! your home your neighborhood !! be dup be dup opps my radio just blew up Daaaaaaaaaaa

  • Last August I was walking North down the beach walking trail near Lifeguard Tower 5 and an E-bike came by me from behind at minimum 30+mph. The bike had a surfboard rack on the right side that just missed my left knee as he passed by only a couple inches. Had he hit my left knee, he would ripped my leg off. These bikes are dangerous on the walking trail and most of the E-bike riders I see are careless to the safety of walking pedestrians. I firmly back the City Council’s efforts to ban such dangerous bikes on the beaches and walking trails.

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