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Educating kids about e-bike safety a joint effort of Laguna Beach city, school and police officials

An e-bike rider arrives to the beach on Friday.
An e-bike rider arrives to the beach on Friday. The Laguna Beach City Council and the Laguna Beach Unified School District held a joint meeting on Thursday and discussed the associated safety, education, and enforcement of operating e-bikes.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Laguna Beach City Council and the Laguna Beach Unified School District held a joint meeting Thursday, and among the topics discussed was the emerging popularity of e-bikes in town.

The mutual point of interest came up as interim Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert gave a report on the activity of school resource officers, noting that e-bike education and safety was discussed in a community forum with parents in May.

Calvert said that about 40 parents attended the forum, and he said e-bike safety will again be covered when the police department offers its next road safety expo.

“We’ve seen [e-bike riders] going too fast, the wrong way [and without] helmets,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said. “It really is concerning to all of us.”

An e-bike rider accelerates on Beach Street in downtown Laguna.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach school board member James Kelly asked if traffic tickets were being issued as a deterrent to those who did not follow the rules of the road.

Previously, city officials had said the effort to keep e-bike use safe in town primarily focused on educating the public. It remains a focus, but police has also begun enforcement, Calvert said.

“This is not just a police department problem,” Calvert said. “This is a parenting problem, and we need to work collaboratively to make sure that the kids are safe in town, but I’ve given direction to my officers to start enforcement.

“Right now, I can’t tell you how many tickets we’ve written, but our officers are out there actively looking for violations, and they’re going to start writing citations to the kids.”

E-bikes parked at Thalia Street beach on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Civic and educational leaders in Laguna Beach agree that the effort to look after the safety of children who commute on e-bikes will be a collaborative one as the education process continues.

“This is going to be a team effort to be able to ensure the safety of our students, and I really appreciate the work that our [school resource officers] have done in that area,” District Supt. Dr. Jason Viloria said.

“It just really frustrates me watching our students ride down the hill from Thurston [Middle School] with a helmet on, but not strapped, and those are the little things that you just cringe at thinking, ‘Just strap it and you’ll be that much safer.’ Those are things that will come with education.”

School board member Kelly Osborne said she believes that citations curtail behavior not only for the individual who is cited, but for those around them, too.

“I did hear of some enforcement, … right around commencement, word was out on the street that young teens were getting ticketed, and it circulates like wildfire,” Osborne said in remarks following Kelly’s question.

“That’s very effective, as well. When your friends get a ticket, it makes you less likely to do something with poor judgment.”

E-bikes parked at Thalia Street beach on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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