E-bike advocates want to be part of regulation review

The Ontario government can expect to hear from e-bike advocates over NEWSTALK 1010's latest investigation.

The head of the Canadian Electric Bicycle Association is working on a letter to the Transportation Minister after tuning in to our In-Depth series, The Unregulated Ride: Toronto's Surge in E-Bike Ownership.

Mike Pasquali, owner of Electric Avenue E-Bikes on Main St. E., says his group wants to help lawmakers look into the possibility of changing the rules surrounding electric scooters and bicycles.

He's going to ask for a meeting with the provincial government.

"We would like to be consulted and we would like to be involved because we represent e-bike dealers and consumers across the country," he says.

The Premier promised a review after NEWSTALK 1010 found some e-bike retailers take a don't-ask-don't-tell approach to rider safety, especially when it comes to the provincially-mandated 32km/h speed threshold that allows an electric scooter or bike to be considered a bicycle under the law.

Pasquali calls any behaviour by retailers that helps riders break the law, 'unethical.'

However, he stresses that the vast majority of the players in the e-bike sector are responsible and do their best to educate riders on how to use their vehicles safely.

He says big changes (like a regime of licensing and registration, for example) which could have a major affect on the growth of this fledgling industry should not be influenced by 'a few bad apples.'

"We're not going to sit idly by and let people who ... are not actually immersed in the e-bike industry make changes that will impact our industry," Pasquali says.

"We'd like to have a say on what the proposed changes might be."

Pasquali's concern is that too much government red tape could be applied to a product that is primarily sold on its convenience, efficency, and ease of access.

He argues if its too expensive or too much trouble to buy and operate an e-bike legally, it might not only be costly to the economy but also take away a valuable alternative to commuting by car.

Pasquali believes it could be a good idea to require registration for some e-bike, but wonders whether a full licensing regime might cross the line.

His experience, he says, is that modifying or reprogramming an e-bike to work around the speed governor is too much trouble.

"Most consumers don't bother doing it and when they do mention they want their bike to go faster ... the retailer should be telling them that most manufacturers will void the warranty if you've modified your bike," Pasquali says.

He says CEBA's hope is that the group can be part of the solution.