County of Marin - News Releases - E-Bike Safety

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2023

New Data Prompt E-Bike Safety Alert

Rate of injuries among school-aged children is increasing in Marin

San Rafael, CA – In Marin County, new data show that electrically powered bicycles (e-bikes) are increasingly involved in 911 responses for bike accidents, especially among young people. It is prompting local authorities to take action.

On October 10, Marin County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) began distinguishing e-bike related 911 responses from conventional bike accidents. In the first month of data collection, the rate of e-bike accidents for youth ages 10 to 19 years old was nine times higher than that for residents over 20 years old.

A closeup view of a bicycle helmet sitting on a bike seat.The bottom-line recommendation from Marin County Public Health: Wear a helmet when on a bike ... any kind of bike.

On November 14, Marin County Public Health issued a Public Health Advisory on e-bike safety for local healthcare providers and launched a public “Bicycle Safety” data dashboard that displays all 911 ambulance responses to bike accidents countywide.

The Public Health Advisory offers guidance for families in four critical e-bike safety measures, based on local trends:

  • Helmet Use: Serious head injuries have occurred to riders who were not wearing a helmet. All bicycle and e-bike riders 17 and under in California must wear a helmet. However, helmets are a vital safety measure for riders of all ages.
  • Passenger Safety: Many e-bike accidents happen when passengers, especially young riders, do not sit properly or when there are too many people on the bike. Passengers should use seats meant for them, follow the manufacturer’s passenger limit, and wear helmets for safety.
  • Rules of the Road: Serious e-bike accidents in Marin have involved collisions with cars or pedestrians. E-bike riders need to obey rules of the road or path, exercise good judgement, and ride in a way that others can predict.
  • Class 1 (Pedal Assist) Bikes: Class 1 e-bikes aid only when the rider is pedaling and are generally more appropriate for newer riders. Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes are heavier and more challenging to maneuver. Class 2 e-bikes can be propelled with a throttle and reach speed of 20 mph. Class 3 e-bikes use a pedal assisted motor, reach speeds of 28 mph, and have additional age, helmet and bikeway access restrictions. This is important for families considering e-bike purchases as the holidays approach.

“We fully support getting kids and adults on bikes, including e-bikes, as a healthy and fun way to get around independently,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “The message is really about doing it more safely.”  

The newly launched data dashboard will be updated weekly to display all ambulance responses to 911 calls for bike accidents countywide. Conventional bike and e-bike accidents are shown separately, and charts include demographic characteristic of victims and accident locations. Highlights of the first month of data collection includes the following:

  • Between October 10 and November 10, 9 out of 41 (22%) 911 responses to bicycle accidents in Marin County were related to e-bikes.
  • 5 out of 7 (71%) 911 responses for bike accidents among youth ages 10 to 19 years old were e-bike related, compared to 4 out 34 of (12%) among residents age 20 and older.
  • All youth related e-bike accidents occurred on city and town streets.
  • Compared to younger riders, accidents among adults tend to be more related to conventional bikes and are less likely to be traffic related.

The new dashboard is an outcome of a recently developed taskforce made up of Marin County Public Health, Marin County Office of Education, Transportation Authority of Marin, Marin Safe Routes to Schools, local law enforcement and other partners. The taskforce – spearheaded by Marin County Supervisor Mary Sackett – is focused on developing countywide e-bike safety measures and messaging.

 “We have a lot of support for developing a balanced response in Marin,” Willis said. “Now we have a clearer picture of the problem we’re tackling together, and more is planned in the weeks to come.”

Before buying an e-bike, or gifting one for the holidays, Public Health recommends talking about it as a family and doing the research. “If buying a new e-bike, consider Class 1 e-bikes the best choice,” added Willis.

Here are additional resources from other agencies:


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website