With the ever increasing popularity of alternative forms of transportation, the electric bicycle has seen a significant growth in consumer base. As our roads begin to see more e-bikes, the more convoluted the rules, regulations, and laws behind e-bikes get. To better protect yourself and those around you, it is important that you, the rider, spend some time getting to know what your rights are and what your limitations are.
1. What is an e-bike?
An e-bike, also known as a power-assisted bicycle, is essentially a bicycle with a motor. It is a bicycle that:
There are various styles of e-bikes, from conventional bicycles to scooter types. Regardless of style, an e-bike is only classified as an e-bike so long as it meets the definition of an e-bike as listed above. Being classified as a bicycle, most of the road rules and regulations pertaining to bicycles also apply to an e-bike.
2. What is an e-scooter?
3. What do I need to operate an ebike?
E-bikes/e-scooters are classified as bicycles as long as they fit the federal requirements listed above. Legally, there are only 2 requirements that one must fulfill in order to operate an e-bike/e-scooter:
As long as the operator fits the requirements listed above, the following apply to all operators of e-bikes/e-scooters:
4. Where are e-bikes/e-scooters allowed?
As long as your e-bike fits the definition of an e-bike as stated above, it is in the same classification as a conventional bicycle. This means that you are allowed to ride your e-bike anywhere were a conventional bicycle is allowed, but with limitations. This means that e-bikes can be used on: roads, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes. However, you may only ride on "bike only" lanes and paths so long as the motor is not engaged at any point.
Check with your local municipality to find out if e-scooters are permitted on trail systems. Generally speaking, these are meant for road-use only, and follow the same rules of the road as bicycles; ie. ride with the traffic and keep to the right.
You must share the road with others (e.g., cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) E-bikes/e-scooters:
5. Can I carry a passenger?
Passengers are not permitted on a bicycle that has been designed for one person. Some e-bikes (generally e-scooter types) are designed to carry passengers, but you may want to check with your local municipality to clarify whether carrying a passenger is allowed in your area. Passengers must be at least 16 years old.
For more detailed information regarding e-bike/e-scooter laws in Ontario, please refer to The Ministry of Transportation FAQ.