Electric Unicycles picking up speed in popularity, but technically not allowed on Ottawa roads and pathways

While we are just getting used to seeing electric scooters around the city, could electric unicycles be the next road craze?

Luc Cossette gets around the city, on a unique set of wheels - or wheel, singular.

"Once I just glide and go a couple of feet, I was like wow! The feeling is just nothing to compare," Cossette tells CTV News Ottawa.

He rides an electric unicycle, which is completely powered by a battery. Cossette says a larger one can go about 50 km/h with a range of 50 to 70 kilometres, while a newer one will go up to 100 km of range.

Cossette has been riding since 2019, and takes it everywhere, even in minus 20 C.

"All year: summer, winter. I go to work with the electric unicycle. It's my car, my everyday car," he said.

Riding one, attracts a lot of attention. He says he’s stopped many times by curious onlookers, and takes it as an opportunity to explain his hobby.

While electric scooters are allowed in Ottawa, and even available for rent under a pilot project, "power-assisted unicycles," are different.

"In both federal and provincial legislation, power-assisted bicycles have been subject to recent amendments. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act provisions were amended by Bill 282, Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, 2021, to include a new definition of power-assisted bicycles. The new definition, which has yet to be proclaimed into force, sets out new standards for three types of power-assisted bicycles, all of which require two or three wheels," said City Solicitor David White in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

"As such, power-assisted unicycles are not authorized on the public Right of Way under the new provisions, nor under previous rules.”

Cossette says he has been stopped by officers four separate times, but because they were curious, and he’s never received a ticket.

"They’re just curious, asking about it; every time I leave them, they’re just like, 'Wow,' and they’re amazed."

He adds that he always obeys traffic laws, including adhering to speed limits on multi-use pathways and he’s dressed in full protective gear.

Konstantin Gamaiunov also enjoys riding his Electric Unicycle, and says you should be prepared to practice.

"I learned it in about three days, it’s pretty easy. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride an electric unicycle, you can learn it pretty quickly."

Gamaiunov says the practice is worth it.

"It gives you so much enjoyment, there’s nothing to compare, you are flying - you have free hands, you have free hands and plenty of manoeuvrability."

If you’re thinking of buying one, be prepared to wait. Youssof El-Katerji of Ottawa-based online dealer InMotion Canada says, "Every time we get some, they sell out really quick; so now, we have a backorder."

According to him, a smaller (and slower) unit starts at around $600, and prices go up to around $4,000 for a unit that can go as fast as 70 km/h.