Electric Bicycle ("e-bike")

What is a power-assisted bicycle (“e-bike”)?e-bike

For use in the Province of Ontario, a power-assisted bicycle, or e-bike, is a bicycle that:

  • Has a maximum weight of 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery);
  • Has wheels with a diameter of at least 350 mm and width of at least 35 mm; and
  • Meets the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle:
    • has steering handlebars and is equipped with pedals,
    • is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground,
    • is capable of being propelled by muscular power,
    • has one or more electric motors that have, singly or in combination, the following characteristics:
      • it has a total continuous power output rating, measured at the shaft of each motor, of 500 W or less,
      • if it is engaged by the use of muscular power, power assistance immediately ceases when the muscular power ceases,
      • if it is engaged by the use of an accelerator controller, power assistance immediately ceases when the brakes are applied, and
      • it is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground,
  • bears a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating, in both official languages, that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle as defined federally, and
  • has one of the following safety features,
  • an enabling mechanism to turn the electric motor on and off that is separate from the accelerator controller and fitted in such a manner that it is operable by the driver, or
  • a mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged before the bicycle attains 3 km/hr.

Is a power-assisted bicycle the same as an e-bike?

Yes.  An e-bike is considered a power-assisted bicycle as long as it meets all the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Do all e-bikes look like bicycles? e-bike scooter

E-bikes may resemble conventional bicycles, or resemble scooters and limited-speed motorcycles.

Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, as described above, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists, with some exceptions (see sections on Safety and Equipment Requirements, and Operating Requirements below)

Safety and Equipment Requirements

What safety requirements are in place for e-bikes?

To operate an e-bike on Ontario’s public roads, the following vehicle safety and operator requirements are in place: 

  • E-bike must not weigh more than 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery).
  • All operators and passengers must be at least 16 years of age.
  • All operators and passengers must wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets.
  • All electrical terminals must be completely covered.
  • Two independent braking systems consistent with requirements for motorcycles and motor-assisted bicycles (mopeds) that applies force to each wheel and 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 shall not be less than 35mm/350mm.
  • No modifications to the motor to allow it to exceed a power output greater than 500W and a speed greater than 32 km/h.
  • The battery and motor must be securely fastened to the vehicle to prevent them from moving while the e-bike is operating.

Am I allowed to modify my e-bike so it can go faster than 32 km/h?

No. Modifying your e-bike for the purposes of increasing its speed beyond 32 km/h will no longer qualify it as an e-bike.  Motor-assisted bicycle (moped) and/or limited-speed motorcycle (LSM) requirements such as licensing, registration and insurance may then apply.

Operating Requirements

What do I need to operate an e-bike?

To operate an e-bike:

  • No driver's licence is required
  • No written test is required
  • No vehicle registration or plate is required
  • No motor vehicle liability insurance is required
  • All operators/riders/passengers must be 16 years of age and older.

  • All persons operating an e-bike are required to wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet.

What are the rules for wearing a helmet?

Anyone operating or riding on an e-bike is required to wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet. There are no age exemptions.

On what roads can an e-bike travel?

E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel.  Any municipal by-law prohibiting bicycles from highways under their jurisdiction also apply to e-bikes. Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction.

E-bikes, like bicycles, are not allowed on controlled-access highways such as 400 series highways, the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Queensway in Ottawa or the Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway, or on municipal roads, including sidewalks where bicycles are banned under municipal by-laws.

If my driver’s licence has been suspended, can I legally operate an e-bike?

It depends on the particular circumstances that lead to the licence suspension.  If your driver's licence suspension was related to a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada, you cannot legally operate an e-bike.  If your driver's licence has been suspended under these or other circumstances, it is recommended that you discuss your situation with a licensed legal practitioner before deciding to operate an e-bike.

Am I allowed to carry passengers on my e-bike?

Under the Highway Traffic Act, section 178(2), passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person.

Enforcement

If a police officer stopped someone who was drunk while driving an e-bike, how would they be charged? Would this be a Criminal Code offence or an HTA offence?

Drinking and driving a motor vehicle is a Criminal Code offence and charges are laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. Under the Criminal Code, the definition of a "motor vehicle" would include an e-bike and anyone operating an e-bike intoxicated could be charged for impaired driving. If convicted, the offender would be subject to the Criminal Code penalties, including a fine or jail time, and a driving prohibition.

Under the Highway Traffic Act, an e-bike is not classified as a motor vehicle, so penalties for impaired driving under the Act would not apply.

If I get stopped by a police officer while riding my e-bike, do I need to show ID?

Under the Highway Traffic Act, section 218, cyclists must stop and identify themselves when required to stop by police for breaking traffic laws. The police officer will ask you for your correct name and address.

Are the fines for e-bike offences the same as bicycle offences?

Yes. All the set fines established for violating rules of the road and equipment standards that apply to bicyclists apply to drivers of e-bikes.

For example: 

 Offence HTA Section - Bicycle*  Set Fine  Court Fee  Victim Fine  Total 
Improper lighting  62(17)*  $20.00  $5.00  $10.00  $35.00 
Improper brakes  64(2)  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
No bell or defective bell  75(5)  $85.00 $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
Fail to wear proper helmet 104(2.1)*  $60.00  $5.00  $15.00  $80.00 
Disobey stop sign, fail to stop  136(1)(a)  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00 $110.00 
Red light fail to stop  144(18)  $260.00  $5.00 $60.00  $325.00 
Careless driving  130  $400.00  $5.00  $85.00  $490.00 
Fail to yield to pedestrian  140(1)(a)  $150.00  $5.00  $25.00  $110.00 
Drive wrong way - one way traffic  153  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
Bicycle - fail to turn out to right when overtaking  148(6)*  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
Cyclist - ride in or along crosswalk  144(29)*  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
Cyclist - fail to stop to identify self  218(2)*  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
Ride 2 on a bicycle  178(2)*  $85.00  $5.00  $20.00  $110.00 
 *HTA offences specific to the operation of bicycles and to bicyclists          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015-01-27

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