Ontario making it easier to fine-tune e-bike bylaws Leave a comment

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New road safety legislation in Ontario this week allows for the fine-tuning of e-bike rules by municipalities.

If passed, the Moving Ontarians More Safety (MOMs) Act introduced by Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney would create new definitions for e-bikes, or power-assisted bicycles, in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).

Bicycle-style mopeds and motorcycle-style e-bikes would be classified separately.

“This proposal seeks to protect vulnerable road users by enabling municipalities to decide which type of e-bikes to permit on their infrastructure and where it is anticipated that bicycle style e-bikes may be granted further access to transportation infrastructure including trails,” Natasha Tremblay, a spokesperson for Mulroney, said in an email. “This will support the use of e-bikes, while restricting where to permit larger moped or motorcycle style e-bikes that may not be considered safe in close proximity to vulnerable road users.”

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Under current legislation, an e-bike must have steering handlebars, working pedals, an electric motor not exceeding 500 watts, a maximum speed of 32 km/h and maximum weight of 120 kg.

There are models of e-bikes that can exceed that province’s maximum allowed speed, but Ontario demands that there be a permanent label from the manufacturer both in English and French stating the bike conforms to the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle.

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Under provincial regulations, an e-bike rider does not need a driver’s licence, vehicle permit or licence plate but must be 16 years of age or older and wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet.

A statement for the City of Toronto’s Transportation Services says staff are reviewing the recently proposed changes to the provincial legislation to better understand all potential implications and how they might impact the city.

The evolving legislation comes during a new provincial pilot program for cargo e-bikes that would allow businesses to move goods through crowded streets while reducing their carbon footprint.

“Cargo e-bikes are a type of electric-powered bicycle or tricycle equipped with a platform or box designed to transport goods. Due to their intended commercial use, these vehicles are heavier, longer and wider than other electric bicycles,” Tremblay said. “Under the pilot program, municipalities will be able to determine if and how cargo e-bikes can be used. This includes regulating how cargo e-bikes can be used on roadways, sidewalks, trails, bike paths and cycle tracks.”

The pilot for cargo e-bikes also limits maximum speed to 32 km/hr.


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