E-Bikes & the Law
E-Bikes have surged in popularity in Ontario after being a relative novelty not too long ago. Increasingly, we see both working cyclists and recreational riders come to enjoy the use of e-bikes to get around in nearly all conditions and seasons.
However, there are naturally a lot of questions surrounding e-bikes, their classification, and what laws may apply. This article serves as guide on how e-bikes are viewed in Ontario and how they may differ from a traditional bicycle.
What is an E-Bike?
Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are defined as follows:
“bicycle” includes a tricycle, a unicycle and a power-assisted bicycle but does not include a motor assisted bicycle.
In Ontario, e-bikes are covered under the term “power-assisted bicycle” and have been defined under the Power-Assisted Bicycles Regulation to include the following characteristics:
Weight of no more than 120 kilograms;
Has wheels with a diameter of at least 350 mm and width of at least 35 mm;
The battery and motor must be securely fastened to the bicycle;
The motor must cease to propel the bicycle forward if pedaling stops, the accelerator is released or the brakes are applied;
The brakes must be capable of bringing the bicycle, while being operated at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour on a clean, paved and level surface, to a full stop within nine meters from the point at which the brakes were applied; and
It must comply with the limits set in federal regulations on e-bikes
The Highway Traffic Act further adds that power-assisted bicycles should be capable of being propelled on level ground solely by using muscular power to operate the pedals.
If the e-bike is modified in a way, such as increased power/speed, the e-bike will no longer meet the definition of a “power-assisted bicycle”.
What does the law say about using e-bikes?
You do not need to have a license to operate an e-bike. You are not required to obtain insurance either (but you may want to consider it!).
With this said here are some additional rules to be mindful of:
You must be at least 16 years of age to operate one.
You are also required to wear a helmet when operating an e-bike.
Also, e-bikes are prohibited in recreational parks. If caught, you are subject to a fine.
E-bikes do not fall in the same category as bicycles, but you should follow the same set of road rules as a regular cyclist. This includes installing lights on your bike, signaling, and stopping at road stops.
Riding an e-bike while intoxicated is prohibited.
We recommend checking out the following links to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road and safe cycling habits:
If you are involved in a collision with a motorist on your e-bike the same laws, benefits and entitlements apply. Be sure to read our extensive blog library to educate yourself on your rights post-crash. We can help you can access support for lost wages, medical care costs, bike replacement and seek meaningful compensation when not at fault.
E-bikes are a great way to get around, but they do come with risk, just like any other form of transportation.
In comparison to traditional bicycles, e-bikes are generally heavier and can allow you to travel faster than the average cyclist on the road. While drivers of motor vehicles are required to check their surroundings before making any maneuver, we know all too well that this check is not always performed. In addition, not all drivers are familiar with the speed at which an e-bike can travel. Unfortunately, we have seen this result in collisions taking place due to a driver underestimating how fast someone on an e-bike is travelling.
Care should also be used when riding an e-bike in and around cyclists on traditional bicycles. Given the increased weight and speed capabilities of e-bikes, cyclists of traditional bicycles may be at an increased risk of harm if a collision was to take place. Please be mindful to provide each rider with adequate space to ride comfortably and only attempt to pass when it is safe to do so.
Please give a heads up of your imminent pass by ringing your bell!
Finally, always be wary of pedestrians, especially if you believe they will try to cross your path of travel. Like motorists, they may not appreciate the speed an e-bike can travel at which, in turn, could result in a collision.
We sincerely hope this guide has helped you obtain a better understanding of e-bikes and their use in Ontario.
This article covers much of the basics surrounding e-bike use, but we understand that you may have more questions, especially if you find that you have been injured by a motor vehicle while out on the road.
If you ever need assistance, please feel free to call us! We do not charge any fees for consultations and we would be more than happy to answer your questions. Our contact information can be found here.
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