e-bike - Google News

Thursday, October 8, 2009

eBikes off, but keep pedal bikes on sidewalks: TCU's Bambrick

The Toronto Cyclists Union spokesperson Yvonne Bambrick has told the Toronto Sun that she believes eBikes styled as scooters should not be allowed to park or remain stationary on the sidewalk, but the TCU remains mum over whether it should be okay to continue allowing pedal bicycles to ride on sidewalks in Toronto.

According to sources at the Toronto Sun, Bambrick resumed her rants against these modern vehicles by stating "These things are so heavy that you couldn't pedal them for any distance at all, they're primarily made to be powered by the electric motor."  The relevance of that statement, especially when the discussion was about parked bikes, was not explained.

The Sun also interviewed Toronto Police Traffic Services Sergeant Tim Burrows, who seems to know a lot about the issues. He is quoted in the newspaper stating that eBikes on the sidewalk are "absolutely" dangerous because of their extra weight and speed. Again, the relevance of this about something that's parked was not clear.

There was no Burrows comment on the fact that in 2009, Toronto's sidewalk accidents that caused hospitalization or fatalities have involved pedestrians and conventional pedal bicycles, not eScooters.

Old bylaws, old thinking, over-thinking

Toronto city council's public works and infrastructure committee is going to seriously weigh these educated opinions as it considers modernizing the city's decades old bylaw that allows bikes with tires of specific diameters to ride on sidewalks.

Due to that bizarre city bylaw – the only one of its kind in Canada and possibly the world – eScooter riders have been able legally to ride on Toronto's sidewalks. "The intent of this bylaw," says the city, "is to allow young children to cycle on the sidewalk while they learn to ride. The bylaw is based on wheel size because it is difficult for Police to enforce age-based bylaws, as most children do not carry identification," the city says.

Although simple shopkeepers routinely ask for proof of age of people who "appear" to be under the legal age to buy tobacco or alcohol,  the city seems to have forgotten that officers can – and frequently do –use personal discretion in the enforcement of laws and, if properly trained to identify the difference between an adult and a "young child" could ask adults and teen pedalists to get off the sidewalk.

The city could have worded the law to match the storekeepers' signage, which declares that they will not sell to people "who appear" to be underage, but didn't. As a result, eScooter tires fit into the ridiculous description of what's legal to ride on the sidewalk.

The Toronto Cyclists Union document reportedly excluded any move to ban its members from riding conventional bicycles on the sidewalk if they conform to the tire size rule.

Bambrick gets press

Bambrick has repeatedly railed against safety issues such as madatory helmets, rider licensing or increased enforcement of bicycle laws, yet she and her group remain credible with the mainstream media because she's so easy to get ahold of for a quote and looks quaintly photogenic on her bicycle featuring plastic flowers on its carrier basket. (Note lack of helmet.)

The TCU and Bambrick continue to campaign against the use of eBikes in Toronto despite the Union's own online survey that showed the vast majority of respondents clearly stating in their written submissions that eBikes belong on the road.

The city also has a Bicycle Parking Plan, outlining principles and practises for parking two-wheelers, which states as its guiding theme: "Secure and convenient bicycle parking must be available at all cycling destinations."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ontario gives green light to eBikes

The Ontario government has clarified the regulations surrounding eBikes on the province's roads, ending a three-year pilot project studying the effectiveness and viability of eBikes and eScooters as legitimate vehicles on Ontario roadways.

(Here's the province's Press Release)

The new regulations state:
Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle...are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists [with some exceptions
Although the new Highway Traffic Act was passed in the late spring of 2009, the province waited until October to announce and implement regulations specific to eBikes.

"Despite the differences in appearance," the regulations state, "both scooter-style e-bikes and conventional-style e-bikes that meet the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle are available in the market."

In addition to the federal definition of eBikes, Ontario's regulations also require that and eBike or eScooter:

  • Has a maximum weight of 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery);
  • Has wheels with a diameter of at least 350 mm and width of at least 35 mm; and
  • Meets the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle

More stringent safety regulations

The new regulations beef up the safety regulations around eBikes and eScooters.

Among the new requirements, eBikes cannot have a motor larger than 500 watts, weigh more than 120 kg with the battery installed, have specific wheel and tire sizes, and must conform to modern braking standards of stopping within nine metres when traveling 30 km/h.  (Read the safety regulations).

In addition, it becomes illegal to modify an eBike to make it go faster than 32 km/h (the federally-defined speed limit).  The regulations suggest that electric bikes which break these regulations might be considered Low Speed Motorcyles (LSMs) and require licensing, insurance and registration.

Helmets must be worn by "operators/riders/passengers", and the minimum age for operation of an eBike is 16.

As for passengers, the regulations state "Under the Highway Traffic Act, section 178(2), passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person."

Where you can ride?

The regulations, in effect Oct. 3, 2009, declare:
E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel.  Any municipal by-law prohibiting bicycles from highways under their jurisdiction also apply to e-bikes. Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction.

E-bikes, like bicycles, are not allowed on controlled-access highways such as 400 series highways, the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Queensway in Ottawa or the Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway, or on municipal roads, including sidewalks where bicycles are banned under municipal by-laws.

However, the province's rules clearly indicate that local communities can pass local bylaws restricting the use of eBikes on certain types of roadways under municipal jurisdiction.

Confusion: eScooters and 'vespas'

The new regulations address concerns that some observers can't tell the difference between a Low Speed Motorcycle and an eScooter.

The easiest way, suggests the regulations, is to look for the mandatory eBike label. (see left).

Another difference, the regulations mention, is that 'vespa' style gas scooters will not have pedals.

Finally, road speed is clearly different. "The maximum speed of a limited-speed motorcycle (LSM)," say the regulations, "is 70 km/h and for a moped is 50 km/h compared to an e-bike, which can reach a maximum speed of only 32 km/h."

Read the complete regulations: Frequently Asked Questions at the Ontario Ministry of transportation.