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Sunday, August 22, 2010

London, Ont. targets illegal gas-engine bikes

According to the National Post, police in London, Ont., are "cracking down" on people who add gas engines to pedal bicycles.

The only kind of motorized bicycle that is legal in Ontario is electric -- an eBike.

Even so, there's a grey-ish area of law surrounding the retro-fitting of electric motors to pedal bicycles, turning them into pedal-assist bikes or "pedelecs."

Provincial statutes suggest that only manufactured eBikes are permitted, and home-built DIY versions are not.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Collingwood councillors ban eBikes, ignore mayor and city staff proposal

Collingwood council has banned eBikes from municipal bike paths, according to the Enterprise-Bulletin. The vote is contrary to the planning recommendations of the mayor, three council members and members of the municipal staff.

The newspaper reports that Mayor Chris Carrier and councillors Tim McNabb, Ian Chadwick and Dave Labelle, plus the community's Trail Committee, supported the use of all varieties of eBikes on bike paths and trails if the speed limit was kept to 20 km/h.

The council voted instead to take its advice from the Leisure Services Committee and the the Georgian Trail board of management, which both recommended blocking eBikes from trails.

No mention of imposing a speed limit on pedal bicycles.

Collingwood municipal council will be facing a general election in October, 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Confused Ottawa cop terrorizes eBiker

An Ottawa city police officer, unfamiliar with the city's laws and policies about eBikes on public pathways, reportedly swerved his cruiser off the road, sped across a lawn and blocked an eBiker from riding down an approved city path.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, after the spectacular and shocking driving display, the officer warned her that eBikes were not welcome on bicycle routes.

"I felt like a criminal," said the eBiker, adding that there appears to be a serious disconnect between this officer and the laws this officer was supposed to be enforcing.

After the bizarre incident, Ottawa city spokesman Barre Campbell told the paper that “the city has no objection to allowing the use of an electrically assisted bicycle in a park or one of its bike paths.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Al Ferris said that the eBiker should not have been stopped, but dismissed the incident as simply a case that, given that eBikes have only been legal to use in Ontario for three years, officers were not familiar with rules governing the new mode of transportation.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stupidist eBike opinion ever?

The Windsor Star recently published a letter from reader Jack Entwhistle that is so poorly researched and speculative, without a simple check of the facts, that the usually-reputable newspaper should be embarrassed to have published it.

The ridiculously opinionated comments, based on pretty much everything except logic and facts, are almost laughable.

The writer poses a series of questions, such as: "what happens when a collision occurs and the e-biker is at fault? Who pays the damages?"

Our answer: If the e-biker "is at fault," the e-biker would pay the damages. That's been a clear legal principle for something like -- oh -- 3,000 years.

The writer continues with: "Are e-bikers required by law to wear safety helmets and are there any age restrictions for these vehicles, or can any young person use them if they so desire? All these questions need to be addressed by the authorities as soon as possible."

Our answer: Well, Jack, those questions were answered about three years ago by the provincial government during its eBike trial period and put into law in October, 2009.  Is three years ago soon enough for you, Jack?

Thanks for writing. Windsor Star, boo to you for not actually caring that you made one of your readers look like a fool.

UPDATE:

On Labour Day, a publishing date when few people read the paper or internet, the Windsor Star published a factual rebuttal from another reader.