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What Rules of the Road Apply to Scooters and E-bikes?

The makeup of the road traffic in places like Toronto and Barrie has drastically changed over the last 5 years. Where once the cars, trucks and motorcycles had to share the road only with bicycles and pedestrians, today drivers have to be on the lookout for scooters and e-bikes as well. This leaves many drivers wondering… What rules of the road apply to scooters and e-bikes?

What is an e-bike?
An E-bike, or ‘power-assisted bicycle is an electric bicycle with a small, electric motor attached. They are powered by rechargeable batteries. The pedals distinguish an e-bike from an e-motorcycle or a scooter. Newer, more powerful e-bike models closely resemble scooters. Regulations in Canada will not allow the e-bike to travel faster than 32km/hr. You do not need a license, plates, or insurance to operate an e-bike, and the rider is subject to the same rules of the road as a traditional bike. However, the rider must be at least 16 years old and, by law, riders must wear a helmet. If you drink and operate the motor of an e-bike, you can face charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.

In Toronto, e-bike riders are not allowed to ride on bike paths or bike lanes if they are using their motor. They are only allowed to ride on bike paths if the motor is switched off and they use the bike’s pedals. If a rider is caught using their motor when riding in a bike lane, he can be faced with an $80 fine, and a $320 fine if caught riding on a trail or path. City by-laws prevent the e-bikes with wheels over 24” in diameter from riding on the sidewalk.

Bike enthusiasts have cited safety concerns with respect to having to share bike lanes with e- bikes, especially when e-bikers modify their bikes to go faster than regulation allows.

What is a scooter?
A scooter is defined as a ‘motorcycle with a platform for the driver’s feet, with a step-through frame. ‘ Scooters have smaller wheels than motorcycles and don’t go nearly as fast on the road. They are considered “limited speed motorcycles” and do not go faster than 70km/hr and are not allowed to travel on roads with posted speed limits over 80km/hr.

Unlike an e-bike, scooters are subject to the same requirements by the Ministry of Transportation as regular vehicles. One must, at minimum, have their M2-L license. An M2-L will only allow you to operate a moped or motorized scooter. The scooter must be insured, registered and have valid license plates. Helmets are mandatory for both driver and passenger. Scooters can only be operated on the road.

Toronto Police Set Out To Enforce e-Bike Road Safety
In an effort to reduce the number of car accidents, pedestrian accidents and e-bike injuries, Toronto Police have launched an e-bike enforcement campaign starting now until August 31,2013.

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