e-bike - Google News

Saturday, June 20, 2009

MTO seeks input, help to debunk myths with facts


Ontario's ministry of transportation is seeking input about where, what and how to regulate eBikes.

And the deadline to respond is July 9, 2009.

Before the 2006-2009 pilot test of eBikes on Ontario roads expires on October 3, 2009, "the ministry is proposing a regulation that would further define operating and equipment requirements to address safety concerns associated with e-bikes," says the MTO's web page titled "The Future of Electric Bicycles ('e-bikes') in Ontario."

The public's comments, says the site, "will be taken into consideration, only with stakeholder comments received at a recent consultation session, in formulating the regulation."

The Ministry offers an information document (MS-Word format) for you to read and respond to by July 9, 2009. The document presents a table of factors, comparing Ontario's legislative status quo with that of a Canadian advisory group and policies of the European Union.

Here's a suggested letter you can send.

Oddly, it doesn't mention that, in every European Union country except Ireland and Sweden, eBikes are classified as "bicycles." They are also already classified as "bicycles" in Canada from Quebec to B.C., with some provinces having mandatory age and helmet restrictions.

The document includes a short list of "Safety Concerns" about eBikes, some of which are valid and some of which are myths easily debunked by looking at the facts. How myths ended up on a government list of concerns is, itself, concerning.

Addressing some of these "concerns:"

  • MYTH: Maneuverability and stability compromised due to small tires. FACT: eBikes and eScooters are actually safer because of their smaller wheels, as outlined in this research paper. No one has presented any evidence otherwise. Smaller tires, for example, make 21st century bicycles safer than their 18th century ancestors. It's simple physics. Also, the wider eScooter tires are much safer riding near Toronto streetcar tracks.
  • MYTH: Ease with which maximum motor speed can be increased through modifications. FACT: The motor maximum speed is very difficult to increase. What can be increased, but only by someone with quite high electronics and soldering skills, is the torque; i.e. the ability to start faster when moving from a dead stop. EBikes are very slow when starting out from a stop sign or red light. This "torque mod" that's reported all over the internet is not so easy, but makes an eBike capable of starting out at a red light on an equal footing with a pedal bicycle which, because of its gears, can generate a lot more torque when starting from zero.
  • MYTH: E-bikes resembling scooters cause confusion as to where they fit within the regulatory scheme on the part of law enforcement, municipalities and the general public. FACT: The status quo laws are clear and well publicized on the internet; whose fault is it if the police don't read Ontario's Highway Traffic Act and regulations? Clear legislation ends confusion.
  • MYTH: Inadequate braking systems, particularly those found on the larger/heavier e-bikes. FACT: Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act and an American/China study both found the drum brakes on eBikes to be better than the pad brakes on conventional bicycles. No one has presented any evidence otherwise.
  • MYTH: E-bikes can be operated by those with suspended licences to circumvent impaired driving penalties. FACT: So can a bicycle or automobile. We don't ban cars or bicycles because a prohibited person might drive one.
  • MYTH: E-bikes are silent (conventional bicycles generate noise from pedalling and chains). FACT: A conventional bicycle, according to the European Cyclists Federation, also is "silent." It is worth noting that the surface area making contact with the ground of an eBike's larger tires is greater than that of a typical bicycle, and it makes more tire noise than a bicycle. It is legitimate for a cyclist to believe that an eBike is quieter than a car.
  • MYTH: Sharing roads and bicycle paths with pedestrians and cyclists, given that some e-bikes are wider, longer and heavier than regular bicycles. FACT: EScooters are no wider than a fat person on a conventional bicycle, and narrower than those 'kiddie trailers' often pulled by bikes. And all eBikes are shorter than almost every bicycle manufactured, in order to meet international standards. Should extraordinary-length recumbent bicycles be banned from bike lanes? OntEBA believes that speed enforcement on parkland bicycle paths is required. This purports to be a safety issue; however the Vancouver Police Department and the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia report that eBikes are not a statistically significant danger to bicylists; in fact, ICBC thinks it's the other way around.


Anonymous said...

I notice you don't mention that thousands of cyclists in Toronto have been rammed from behind by lethal e-bikes, why is that?

ontEBA: said...

Thanks for your comment.

A call to the Toronto Police Service informs us that they have no record of eBikes ramming conventional bicycles.

They do, however, have 26 complaints this year of bicycles ridden on sidewalks that hit pedestrians.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the idea E-bikes have had thousands of accidents with bicycles, these type of lies are just showing how desperate the elitest cyclists and their so called union are because their lies are being proven false when tested for validation.

Anonymous said...

I was just kidding. It's funny how some people see the weight of an e-bike compared to a regular bicycle makes it so dangerous when there haven't been any incidents at all.
I'm a cyclist and have no problem with e-bikes on the paths or in bike lanes.

You really called the police to check this? lol

Anonymous said...


As of July 1st Alberta is lifting the weight restriction of power assisted bicycles.

Effective July 1, 2009:

A moped will have a top speed of 70 km/h and no weight restrictions. A moped includes a vehicle with an electric motor or one that is propelled by an engine that has a displacement of not more than 50 cc.

A power bicycle will have a top speed of 32 km/h, an electric motor with a maximum power of 500 watts, and no weight restriction.
Prior to July 1, 2009:

A moped has a top speed of 50 km/h and weighs between 35 and 55 kg.

A power bicycle has a top speed of 35 km/h, one or more electric motors with a maximum electric power of 750 watts or has an engine displacement of no more than 50 cubic centimetres, and has to weigh less than 35 kg.

Anonymous said...

Cycling Unions may come back with something clever like..."Well this isn't Alberta,BC,Nova Scotia,Manitoba,Quebec or Saskatchewan. Our infrastructure is completely different."

Anonymous said...

It's funny that the Ministry cites the fact that ebikes can be operated by people with suspended licenses as a concern. The FAQ on their own website clearly states that people with a suspended license can still legally operate an ebike:

Anonymous said...

E-Bikes are "too quiet" claims the MTO and the TCU. Mandatory Hockey Cards and Clothing Pins must be attached to all bicycles and e-bikes effective October 3rd 2009.