E-Bikes: The Unregulated Ride-Where do we go from here?
In this third part of NEWSTALK 1010's exclusive in-depth series The Unregulated Ride: Toronto's Surge in E-Bike Ownership, there isn't much more to learn.
We know to ride an e-bike in Toronto, you don't need licence or insurance. And we also know that they are multiplying like rabbits on your grandparents farm.
The reaction to our series has been swift from the government, with the Premier saying in a press conference that she would be directing her ministry of transportation to look at the regulations surrounding the bikes.
"I was the minister of transportation in 2010, and this was an issue then. It was something we looked at and I think it needs to be looked at again." said Kathleen Wynne when asked about a lack of e-bike regulations.
Funny, that timing though.
Why, for eight years has the provincial government ignored these bikes, only to all of a sudden open their eyes, just months before an election?
"This could be one of those examples where you say on the record that you're going to instruct your ministry to look into something, but the reality is, the house is going to rise and we're going to be into an election campaign. If that government doesn't get in, there's no obligation for them to look at it any further." says John Wright from Dart Insight and Communications.
"This is no promise for anything really, other than to instruct a ministry to do something that may never happen."
Some of the groups that we talked to for the series, were waiting for the province to take the lead.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada's Pete Karageorgos is one of them.
"It's something the government would be responsible for reviewing."
Bob Ramsay from the Motorcycle Moped Industry Council says this has been an area of concern for them.
"We meet with provincial government regularly to talk about regulations, and this is one area, we think could be improved."
Obviously, if you talk to the PC transportation critic, he would be critical of the province. And that's the side of the fence we found Michael Harris on.
"The Liberals have completely the very real safety issues on our city streets where bikes zig-zag through traffic with little concern for the penalties and no insurance."
We don't know if there will be a review of the regulations. Harris says it may not come up as an election issue, since there are bigger topics at play when it comes to Queen's Park. But it will be interesting to see what happens following the election in June.
What is an e-bike anyway?
Ontario's Highway Traffic Act is written so that as long as an electric scooter or electric bicycle has:
- Working pedals
- An electric motor with 500 watts of power or less
- A weight of no more than 120 kg and a top speed of 32 km/h
If a bike or scooter checks all those boxes, a rider is not required to have a motorcycle license, valid insurance, or have their vehicle registered with the Transportation Ministry to ride their e-bike on city streets. Highway use is not permitted.
E-bike riders must wear helmets, although the law states that it must be made to the standard of a bicycle helmet, rather than one designed to withstand the impact of a collision on a motorcycle.
with files from James Moore and Justine Lewkowicz