British Columbia

Faster, heavier motorized bikes raise concerns for riders in cycle lanes

To avoid accidents, HUB cycling committee is advising electric-bike riders to slow down and use their voice to alert other riders when passing.

HUB cycling committee advises riders to slow down, use voice when passing, especially at 'pinch points'

Motorized bikes on Vancouver's network of cycling lanes are increasing the risk of injury to riders, according to advocacy group HUB. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

It's Bike to Work Week in the Lower Mainland, though it's not just cyclists that are encouraged to use bike lanes — with skateboards, rollerblades and push scooters allowed on these routes

However, the growing popularity of faster, heavier motorized bicycles has raised concern.

"There are some bikes that are out there that are a little bit more like motorcycles, they have pedals but they're not usable as pedals," said Jeff Leigh, chair of the Vancouver/UBC HUB cycling committee.

"The one thing we do hear about is the larger electric bikes… and it's simply an issue of speed and the weight of them and the concern that people have for injury." 

He said bikes can have an electric assist but they must have pedals that are useable to be allowed in bike lanes.

Hoverboards, motorized scooters and Segways are currently not allowed on city streets, sidewalks, paths — including the seawall — or protected bike lanes, as per the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.

Bike-lane 'pinch points'

As the volume of cyclists and commuters choosing to go car free grows, Leigh told The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn that bike routes are experiencing "pinch points."

Passing can be dangerous at these junctions, he said, and riders travelling at higher speeds have a higher risk of collision.

To avoid accidents, Leigh advised riders to slow down and use their voice to alert others when passing. He also called for more bike lanes that are wider because of the increase in people using these routes.

"We need to build not just for this year, but the coming years as we see more and more people on what I'll call non-traditional bikes, whether it be long bikes or tricycles or delivery bikes," Leigh said.

Stay visible

Last year 48 per cent of trips in the City of Vancouver were made using sustainable modes of transportation, which includes walking, cycling and transit, according to the Greenest City Action Plan.

The action plan includes goals to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries on roads and a new spot-improvement program to intersections with heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic.

Leigh also emphasized the importance for all riders to wear lights, helmets and visible clothing, especially as the days get shorter. 

Bike to Work Week runs Oct. 29-Nov 4.

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the full interview listen to media below:


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