Whitehorse city council has taken the first step to adopt a bylaw governing e-bike use in the city.
At council’s April 13 meeting, members passed the first two readings of the bylaw as well as changes to other bylaws to bring them in line with the new e-bike bylaw.
The changes come as e-bike use around town is increasing. The city’s trail plan also calls for updates to policies and regulations to legitimize the use of the bikes.
The bylaw outlines trails that the various classes of e-bikes would be permitted on in the city.
Class 1, pedal-assisted e-bikes that can travel speeds up to 32 km/hr, would be permitted on any trails, while Class 2 e-bikes (which can also travel speeds up to 32 km/hr, but are throttle-assisted, meaning they don’t require pedaling) would be permitted on paved trails only.
Class 3 e-bikes, which have more power and can travel up to 45 km/hr would be restricted to motorized multi-use trails and the Two-Mile Hill paved pathway, as bikes are not permitted to use that roadway at all under city bylaws.
All e-bikes could be used on all other roads, except Two-Mile Hill, with the same rules that apply to pedal bikes.
Fines of between $50 and $300 would apply for failing to follow the bylaw.
Council members were unanimous in their decision to pass first and second reading, though some said they are anticipating city staff responding to issues raised about the bylaw by delegate Keith Lay of the Active Trails Whitehorse Association before third reading comes forward.
Lay addressed council by phone at the beginning of the meeting, proposing a number of changes to the bylaw before it passes.
He suggested age restrictions for e-bikes should be considered as they are in place in other jurisdictions, that modifications that could result in e-bikes exceeding a power greater than 500 watts should be prohibited, that signaling devices such as bells should be required when e-bikes are passing others, that greater clarity should be provided in the bylaw about which trails the e-bikes can travel on; and an updated trail map should be produced by the city.
Throughout his presentation, Lay reminded council that e-bikes are not your typical bicycle.
“They are e-bikes with electric motors and can be modified to increase power,” he said, after pointing out earlier in the presentation they are also heavier, can be faster and more difficult to handle than pedal bicycles.
Jeff O’Farrell, the city’s director of community and recreation services, said a response will be sent to Lay in response to his concerns.
Third reading of the bylaw is expected to come forward April 26.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org