HUB Cycling Position: Electric-assist Bikes

June 3, 2019

Photo: MEC Pedal Assist Electric Bike

Position 1: HUB Encourages the Use of Electric-Assist Bikes

HUB’s mission is to get more people cycling more often. Electric-assist bikes further this mission because they allow people with physical limits or long commutes to cycle more often. Therefore, HUB encourages the use of electric-assist bikes to get people on bikes that would not normally ride because of physical constraints. As such, HUB agrees with the current state of the law that electric-assist bikes are allowed in bike lanes and need not obtain a licence or insurance to ride on the road.

 

Position 2: HUB Recommends Regulatory Changes to Distinguish Scooter-Style Vehicles from Electric-Assist Bikes

The definition of an electric-assist bike in British Columbia’s Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation, B.C. Reg. 151/2002 improperly captures scooter-style vehicles. The central characteristic of an electric-assist bike is that the electrical power assist the person riding. In other words, when the person riding stops pedalling, the power function ought to cease. Unlike electric-assist regulations in Toronto and Europe, the B.C. regulation includes electric vehicles that are propelled without the operator utilizing the pedals. As a result, wide and heavy scooter-style vehicles are used on bike lanes, and without operator licenses and liability insurance that are required for low speed motorcycles. There is a safety risk with wide and heavy scooter-style vehicles being treated like electric-assist bicycles: all scooter-style vehicles are both very wide and very heavy whereas electric-assist bikes are typically regular width and only slightly heavier than a bike. The standard scooter-style vehicle weighs 210 lbs and has pedals protruding from an already wide body. The standard electric-assist bike weighs 60 lbs and has a normal width.

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Therefore, HUB recommends amend the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation to match the regulations in Toronto and in Europe that require that power assistance must cease when pedaling ceases. See

  • City of Toronto (“Bicycle includes a bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, and a power-assisted bicycle which weighs less than 40 kilograms and requires pedalling for propulsion (“pedelec”), or other similar vehicle, but does not include any vehicle or bicycle capable of being propelled or driven solely by any power other than muscular power” (Toronto Municipal Code, ch.886))
  • European Union ("Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling.”(European Union Directive 2002/24/EC)).

HUB supports the current speed and power limits for electric-assist bikes (32 km/h and 500W respectively). Although these speeds and power limits are higher than required for standard electric- assist bikes, cargo-bikes rely on higher speeds and powers.

 

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Last updated May 2019
Is there a particular issue you’d like to see us take a position on? Email us at action@bikehub.ca