I am beginning to think it is time the Ministry of Transportation took another look at the regulations governing E-bikes.
Because it seems too many are not following the regulations, especially when it comes to speed.
An E-bike is to be ridden at a maximum speed of 32 km/h an hour and they come equipped with a governor to ensure this is the case.
Problem is, the governor can be removed and this, it appears, is happening even though it is illegal to do so.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the increased speed of some E-bikes until last week, travelling west on Wellington Street East in my SUV, I noted an E-bike was keeping pace with me.
I slowed up and pulled in behind it and as I followed it I saw the digital speedometer on my vehicle was registering 53-55 km/h.
Later in the day, going the other way on Wellington, I locked in behind another that seemed to be going faster than usual. It also clocked in in the mid 50s.
This week I followed one on Elgin Street that reached a maximum of 45 km/h. I caught up with the rider in the Station Mall parking lot and asked him how fast his bike would go. He said into the 50s.
If these bikes are going to travel at that speed ( one piece I read on the Internet said some bikes can be modified to reach 80 km/h), surely they should be considered as regular motor vehicles and come under the Highway Traffic Act.
I realize not every rider will have the governor removed from his or her bike but it is only natural that since some are now doing it more, who witness and envy the increased speed, eventually will.
The increase in speed into the 50s, of course, makes it considerably more dangerous for the riders than travelling at 32 since the bikes, much lighter than regular motorcycles, were not designed for such speeds.
In the case of one E-bike I was following, a vehicle pulled in front of me and then squeezed between the bike and the car in the lane beside it to pass the bike .
At the speed these bikes are travelling, rather than hugging the curb as bicycles are supposed to do, they should move to the left of the lane so vehicles won’t be able to squeeze past them.
One rider told me E-bike riders have to watch for grated storm sewer drains at the best of times, the danger always there that they could put a bike down, even though the minimum wheel width or diameter cannot be less than 35mm/350mm.
Riders must wear a helmet but it can be either a motorcycle or bicycle helmet. With the greater speed at which some are now travelling, I believe it should be stipulated that a motorcycle helmet is to be used. A bicycle helmet isn’t going to do much good when a rider slams into the roadway at 50 km/h.
Actually I think motorcycle helmets should be required for the stipulated maximum speed of 32 km/h.
E-bike riders don’t require a driver’s licence, vehicle permit, licence plate or insurance to ride one However, they do need to be 16 years or older and must have identification with their birth date on them when riding.
There are a few questions and answers from the ministry’s website that I believe are worth sharing:
Q: Can I remove the pedals from my E-bike?
A: No. If you remove the pedals from your E-bike, it is no longer considered to be an E-bike because it does not conform with the Highway Traffic Act definition of a power-assisted bicycle. Removing the pedals makes it an illegal vehicle. You could be ticketed for operating a motor vehicle without registration and insurance.
Q: Can I modify my E-bike so it can go faster than 32 km/h?
A: No. Modifying your e-bike to increase its speed beyond 32 km/h will no longer qualify it as an e-bike.
Q: Can I operate an E-bike if my driver’s licence has been suspended?
A: It depends on the particular circumstances that led to your licence suspension. If your licence is suspended because of a conviction that has resulted in a driving prohibition under the Criminal Code of Canada, you cannot legally operate an E-bike. If your driver’s licence has been suspended under other circumstances, you should discuss your situation with a licensed legal practitioner before deciding to operate an E-bike.
Q: Can I carry passengers on my E-bike?
A: You can carry passengers on your E-bike if it was designed for more than one person. Passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person. E-bike passengers must be at least 16 years old.
Q: What are the penalties for riding an E-bike while drunk?
A :Drinking and driving a motor vehicle is a Criminal Code offence and charges are laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. Under the Criminal Code, the definition of a “motor vehicle” includes an E-bike, and anyone operating an E-bike intoxicated could be charged for impaired driving. If convicted, the offender would be subject to the Criminal Code penalties, including a fine or jail time, and a driving prohibition.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, an e-bike is not classified as a motor vehicle, so penalties for impaired driving under the Act would not apply.
Q: Can municipalities pass by-laws prohibiting E-bikes?
A: Yes. Municipalities have the ability to prohibit where E-bikes may travel on roads, paths, trails and other property under their jurisdiction.
Anyway, my main thrust in this piece is that something has to be done regarding E-bike use, either the regulations as constituted are followed by riders and enforced by police or legislation must be passed bringing E-bikes under the Highway Traffic Act.
Actually, I am not sure the police could even get involved.
Because as it stands, the ministry tells us what can’t be done with or to an E-bike but doesn’t say what the penalty would be for removing the governor and exceeding the 32 km/h speed limit.
If anyone has a handle on that, please post below.