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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.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is great (and shocking) news. The Ontario government did something sensible, sensitive to all sides and forward looking. I didn't even vote for them and I say this.

mariposaman said...

I am not sure why there is an upper weight restriction. I suppose this is in response to the bike lobby that complained the bikes were "too heavy". I am not aware of anywhere else there is an upper weight restriction. There is no weight restriction in the Federal definition, so where did that come from? Obviously they are not aware of how underpowered these ebikes are at even 500 Watts. My bike is 350 Watts and my toaster is 1000 Watts so my bike would not even toast a slice of bread. Hills are a constant problem and if I added any more weight it would not go up a hill at all.

Maybe I should put wheels on my toaster.

canadian52 said...

I am so happy about this. The Ontario government is making a significant effort to support the use of these vehicles that are so good for the environment. E-bikes are also pretty light on the wallet which definitely beats the toll of a gas guzzling SUV. http://transportationlaw.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/transportation-news/

Scott M. said...

From what I read, e-bike kits would be illegal in Ontario.

That sucks.

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