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  Cycle Safely When Riding Electric Bicycles

May 26, 2016 13:20 ET

Summer is on its way, and with the warmer weather finally here, members of the community will be considering alternative forms of transportation to get some exercise on their commutes to work or school.

Electric bicycles and motor bicycles are increasing in popularity, and with the Region of Durham kicking off Bike Month, DRPS would like to remind members of the community to stay safe when using electric bicycles and other motor-assisted vehicles. Learn the rules of operating electric vehicles on Ontario roadways, so you can keep yourself and others safe.

Electric Bicycles

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, look like conventional bicycles but have electric motors to assist the rider. While you do not need a driver's licence, vehicle permit or licence plate to operate an e-bike, the bike must have steering handlebars and working pedals to be considered legal. You must also be at least 16-years-old and wear a helmet.

E-bikes are permitted on most roads and sidewalks where conventional bicycles are permitted, however they are not permitted on 400-series highways, or sidewalks and paths where traditional bicycles are also prohibited. The City of Oshawa does have a policy regarding the use of e-bikes on sidewalks and it can be found here Currently, there are no restrictions in place in Durham Region regarding the use of e-bikes on public paths and trails (such as waterfront trails), but riders are required to travel at safe speeds, use caution when approaching pedestrians and obey all signage.

E-bikes must also be kept in properly working order, with the following safety requirements in place:

- A maximum weight of 120 kg (including the weight of the battery)
- An electric motor that does not exceed 500 Watts
- A maximum speed of 32km/h
- All electrical terminals must be covered
- Must have two independent braking systems, similar to those required for motorcycles, in which applied braking to each wheel is capable of bringing the e-bike, while being operated at a speed of 30 km/h, to a full stop within 9 metres from the point at which the brakes were applied
- The minimum wheel width or diameter cannot be less than 35mm/350mm

It is illegal to modify the motor to increase the speed of the e-bike, and that the same rules of the road apply to riding an e-bike as they do to bicycles. You must not ride an e-bike while impaired, as an e-bike is considered a motor vehicle under the Criminal Code. The same impaired driving laws apply to e-bikes as they do to cars and other motor vehicles.

Please note that different rules and regulations apply to mopeds, motor scooters and other limited speed motorcycles, and that license plates and permits are often required. Refresh your knowledge of those rules here.

Below are attached files.
E Bikes (JPG file, 93.1K bytes)