Ontario expands e-bike rules

Ontario will continue to allow e-bikes on its roads after the end of a three-year pilot project, but the province is imposing a few new safety rules.

Ontario will continue to allow electric bikes on its roads after the end of a three-year pilot project, but the province is imposing a few new safety rules.

The province announced Thursday that bicycles capable of being powered by both pedals and an electric motor:

  • Cannot have a maximum weight above 120 kilograms.
  • Must have a maximum braking distance of nine metres.
  • Cannot undergo any modifications to their electric motors to generate speeds greater than 32 km/h, the maximum allowed for e-bike motors.

The rules, which go into effect Saturday, are designed to address concerns raised during the pilot project, which the government said mainly related to some of the larger, heavier e-bikes that resemble scooters or mopeds more than bicycles.

In addition to the new rules, e-bike users must still follow rules announced at the start of the pilot project. They must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets.
  • Follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists.

However, the fine for riding an e-bike under the age of 16 or riding an e-bike without an approved helmet has dropped to between $60 and $500, down from the penalty of up $2,500 reserved for pilot projects. For other traffic offences, e-bike riders face the same penalties as cyclists.

E-bikes will be allowed on most roads throughout the province, but will not be permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Municipalities will be able to decide where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails.

The new rules kick in as Ontario's three-year e-bike pilot project ends. Prior to the start of the pilot project on Oct. 4, 2006, e-bike riders in Ontario had to obey the same laws as motorcyclists.

E-bikes have been allowed on Canada's roads under Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act since 2001.

B.C., Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba have transportation legislation in agreement with federal laws on e-bikes.