Electric bikes or “e-bikes” are becoming popular throughout Ontario as an alternative form of transportation. You may have seen more and more of these bicycles and wondered if there are special rules that apply to electric bicycles. The answer is “yes,” there are special rules and laws in Ontario for e-bikes. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has information about electric bikes on its website, including a FAQ section to help riders understand the requirements for electric bicycles in Ontario.
What is an Electric Bicycle?
Electric bikes are motorized bicycles. The vehicles are somewhere between a regular bicycle and a motorcycle. E-bikes can resemble motorcycles, conventional bicycles, or scooters. However, the requirements for an e-bike are what set it apart from a motorcycle or conventional bicycle.
Requirements for an e-bike include:
- Must be equipped with steering bars, working pedals, and two independent braking systems (one for each wheel).
- The bike and the battery cannot exceed a weight of 120 kg together.
- The bike cannot have a motor that exceeds 500 Watts.
- An electric bike cannot have a maximum speed exceeding 32 km/h.
- Your electric bicycle must come equipped with a notice, in both French and English, from the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle. The permanent label must always remain on the bike.
- The electrical terminals on the bike must remain completely covered at all times.
- The minimum wheel width for an e-bike is 35 mm.
- The motor and the battery must be secured to the bike to prevent movement when the bike is in operation.
The law prohibits modifying an electric bicycle in any way that results in deviations from the above requirements. For example, you cannot modify the motor on your bike so that you can travel at speeds greater than 32 km/h or to allow the motor to exceed outputs of 500 Watts. You may not remove the pedals from your e-bike. To do so renders the vehicle illegal because it does not conform to the standard definition of an e-bike under the Highway Traffic Act.
Rules and Laws for Electric Bicycle Operators
In addition to the laws and rules specific to the e-bike itself, there are several rules that apply to the driver.
- Drivers do not need a driver’s license or vehicle permit to operate an e-bike.
- E-bike drivers must be at least 16 years of age or older.
- Passengers on electric bikes must also be 16 years of age or older.
- Passengers and drivers must wear a bicycle helmet or motorcycle helmet when riding the e-bike.
- Under some circumstances, if you have a driver’s license and it has been suspended, you may not be able to operate an e-bike legally.
- You cannot carry a passenger on an e-bike that is designed for only one person.
Because municipalities are permitted to pass laws related to electric bicycles, you should check with your local government to ensure you are in compliance with any local laws. This condition also applies to the rules of the road for e-bikes.
Rules of the Road for Electric Bicycles
You must follow all rules of the road that apply to riders of conventional bicycles. While you can ride your e-bike almost anywhere you can ride a bicycle; there are some limitations. You cannot ride an e-bike on some highways, sidewalks, municipal roads, bike paths, or bike lanes. Again, you need to check with your local government for a set of rules that apply to electric bicycles in your jurisdiction.
Ontario Electric Bicycle Accident Lawyers
As a rider, you have the responsibility to take steps to avoid traffic accidents. However, drivers also have a duty of care to avoid traffic-accidents with electric bicycles.
If you are injured in an e-bike accident, the team of personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond can help. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.