With the return of summer weather and the rising cost of gas, many individuals are looking for alternative modes of transportation. E-bikes have become a popular mode of transportation in Ottawa in recent years. But what exactly are the laws and regulations surrounding e-bikes? Where can you ride them? Do you need insurance? This article will answer these questions and provide some basic information regarding e-bikes.
What is an E-bike?
E-bikes are known as “power-assisted bicycles” under the Highway Traffic Act and do not fall under the Act’s definition of “motor vehicle. The Highway Traffic Act defines “power-assisted bicycle” as a bicycle that:
(a) is a power-assisted bicycle as defined in subsection 2 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations made under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada), [The Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations definition of “power-assisted bicycle” has since been repealed]
(b) bears a label affixed by the manufacturer in compliance with the definition referred to in clause (a),
(c) is fitted at all times with pedals that are operable to propel the bicycle, and
(d) is capable at all times of being propelled on level ground solely by using muscular power to operate the pedals
The regulation Power Assisted Bicycles, O Reg 369/09 sets out the basic rules regarding power-assisted bicycles. The following requirements are set out for e-bikes:
- They cannot weight more than 120 kg;
- They must have minimum wheel width of 35 mm and minimum wheel diameter of 350 mm;
- The battery and motor must be securely fastened;
- The motor must cease to propel the bike forward if pedaling stops, the accelerator is released, or the brakes applied;
- The brakes must be capable of bringing the bike, while operated at a speed of 30km/h, on a clean and level surface, to a full stop within 9 meters;
- Electric terminals must be completely covered;
- The bike cannot be modified to allow it to exceed a power output of more than 500W or a speed greater than 32 km/h; and
- The bike must not be ridden on, driven, or operated unless it is in good-working order.
According to the Highway Traffic Act, you must be at least sixteen years old in order to operate a power-assisted bicycle. The Act also requires that users wear a helmet. You are not required to have a driver’s license to operate an e-bike.
Where Can You Ride Your E-bike?
According to the MTO, e-bikes can be driven on most roads where bicycles are allowed. However, you cannot ride an e-bike on:
- Certain provincial highways, including the 400 highways, Queen Elizabeth Way, Queensway, or Kitchener-Waterloo expressway;
- Municipal roads that have banned bicycles under bylaws; and
- Certain municipal roads, sidewalks, and bike paths, trails or lanes, which have prohibited the operation of e-bikes.
While operating your e-bike you must follow the same rules that apply to cyclists.
Do you Need Insurance on Your E-bike?
As long as your e-bike has pedals that allow it to be self-propelled using muscle power, then it is not required to have insurance. Since a “power-assisted bicycle” is not included in the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Highway Traffic Act, it is not required to be insured under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. However, if you remove the pedals, this would make your e-bike a motor vehicle.
Can You Claim Accident Benefits and Personal Injury Damages After an Accident?
If you are involved in a collision with a car, truck or any other sort of motor vehicle, while driving your e-bike, you are entitled to no-fault accident benefits. These benefits will be paid by your own automobile insurance company (if you have insurance for a separate vehicle) or by the insurance company of the driver who hit you, if you do not have your own automobile insurance. These benefits include but are not limited to an income replacement benefits, medical and rehabilitative treatment and attendant care benefits, depending on the nature of your injuries.
If the driver of the motor vehicle that struck you is at fault, you are entitled to sue the at-fault driver for damages including pain and suffering, income loss, housekeeping expenses and any other damages not covered by the no-fault accident benefits.
It is important to remember that since e-bikes are not required to have insurance, if you are operating an e-bike and cause an accident, then you may be liable for the other party’s losses.
Additionally, while e-bikes are not considered to be motor vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, they do fall under the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Criminal Code. This means that you are not allowed to operate your e-bike while impaired. As well, if your driver’s license has been suspended you should seek legal advice to determine whether you are allowed to operate an e-bike.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an e-bike accident in Eastern Ontario, contact one of our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation. We can be reached by phone at 613-704-5543, by email at email@example.com, or by filling out our online contact form.