City council passed its E-Bike Bylaw at its meeting on Monday, after hearing several submissions from members of the public.
Among other things, the bylaw sets out what classes of e-bikes are permitted on the different city trails, based on the size of the electric motor.
The class one e-bikes are bikes with a 500-watt engine that provides assistance only when the rider is pedalling. The motorized assistance cuts out when the bike hits 32 kilometres per hour.
The class one bike, along with adapted mountain bikes, are allowed on all trails and bicycle lanes.
Adapted mountain bikes (AMTB), are bikes adapted for use by people with a disability or special need who are unable to use a two-wheel bike.
The class two e-bikes are throttle-equipped bikes that can be propelled solely by the engine, which kicks out at 32 km/h.
The class two bikes, as well as e-scooters and e-moblity devices, are allowed only on type one trails, which are double-track trails paved with asphalt or chip seal.
The most powerful class, the class three e-bikes, have a power rating of 750 watts. The engine will cut out when the bike reaches 45 km/h.
Class three bikes are permitted only on roadways, bicycle lanes, motorized multi-use trails and the Two Mile Hill multi-use trail.
The bylaw also sets out other regulations, such as prohibiting riders on all classes of e-bikes, e-scooters and e-mobility devices from operating their bikes while wearing headphones or other devices capable of transmitting sound.
“Notwithstanding any other provisions of this bylaw, unless a person operating an e-bike, e-scooter, e-mobility device or aMTB can provide more than one metre of separation when overtaking another Trail user, the person operating an e-bike shall give an audible signal by voice, bell or other signalling device before overtaking another Trail user,” says the bylaw.
Several submissions received asked council to loosen up restrictions on the use of e-bikes, as well as consider increasing the wattage cap for engines to 1,000 or 1,500 watts.
“Top-end speed is barely increased, but climbing power is much more efficient and motor life is increased,” says one of the submissions.
“This is far more appropriate for our city.”
Another submission says: “Demand for active transportation, some of it electrically assisted, is rising. The solution is to better accommodate e-bikes, not ban or limit their use.”
Many of the submissions noted how the use of e-bikes displaces the need for residents to drive their regular fossil fuel vehicles, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Many also noted cyclists on regular bikes can also attain significant speeds along the trails just by pedalling.