Posted by: energyblogwalter | February 1, 2006

Motor-assisted bicycle legal? Asking MTO…

Dear Ministry of Transportation:
Please help me understand when and where I may use a motor assisted bicycle on city streets and secondary highways.

The statement that confuses me compared to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is on the abbreviated website Two and Three wheeled Vehicles in Ontario: “””Power-assisted/electric bicycles may fall within the HTA definition of a “motor assisted bicycle”, but they do not meet safety standards (e.g., brakes, lights, etc.) for on-road use.”””

Ok, so if such a powered bicycle is not any faster than a regular bicycle, and are travelling at the same speed, what difference is there in the safety of the bicycle being allowed and the powered bicycle not?

As a cyclist may occasionally reach 32 km/h in the use of a regular bicycle and if it does meet the regular safety standards how do these standards differ from a power assisted bicycle? Tandem recumbent bicycles can reach up to 50+ km/h and are not motor powered either.

From the information from the HTA that the motor assisted bicycle:
-have a speed less than 50 km/h,
-be less than 40 km/h requires a slow moving vehicle sign
-in the abbreviation states 32 km/h max, but not found in the HTA (can you see it there?)
-be less than 55 kg
-be less than 500 W
-be less than 50 cc

Putting this all together, does this mean that if I make a bicycle with an electric motor whose total speed goes less than 32 km/h, has less than 500W of energy, and weighs less than 55 kg, and meets the standard safety features of a bicycle, that this is legal and ok for use on city roads and secondary highways just like a regular bicycle?

Thanks
Walter

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Responses

  1. Note to self: I only see the safety criteria as different if max of power assisted bicycle is 32 km/h. Be interesting to see what they say.

  2. From : MTOINFO, St. Catharines (MTO)
    Sent : February 1, 2006 1:16:14 PM
    To :
    Subject : RE: Motor Assisted Bicycles GB

    Dear Walter

    Thank you for contacting the Ministry of Transportation’s Customer Service
    Office.

    The Licence Assistance Office is the only area that can answer this request
    for information, please call 1-800 387-3445 or 416 235-2999 or fill out the
    Feedback Form at this web site address.
    http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/feedback/lao.htm

    We thank you for your inquiry and encourage you to contact us in the future
    as we continually strive to improve our service to our customers.

    Sincerely,
    Customer Services Office

  3. Hello,

    Please help me understand when and where I may use a battery/motor assisted bicycle on city streets and secondary highways?

    The statement that confuses me compared to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is on the abbreviated website (http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/vehicle/emerging/index.html#power) Two and Three wheeled Vehicles in Ontario:
    “””Power-assisted/electric bicycles may fall within the HTA definition of a
    “motor assisted bicycle”, but they do not meet safety standards (e.g.,
    brakes, lights, etc.) for on-road use.”””

    Hmmm. I interpret this statement to say that assisted bicycles are legal according to the HTA, but then it assumes all assisted bicycles do not meet the same safety standards as plain bicycles because they lack brakes and lights. Do I need some extra precautionary safety measures for an assisted bicycle that goes the same speed as a normal bicycle? (other than a stable load etc) Just brakes and lights? Would not a standard bicycle need these items to be a legal also?

    However if such a powered bicycle is not any faster than a regular bicycle, and are travelling at the same maximum speed, what difference is there in the safety of the plain bicycle being allowed on the roads and fitted for road safety and the powered bicycle not? Wouldn’t the powered bicycle be safer? I’m just referring to a battery assisted bicycle here, not a moped or anything really intense.

    As a (more fit) cyclist may occasionally reach 32 km/h in the use of a regular bicycle, and if it meets regular maintenance and safety standards, how then do these standards differ from a power assisted bicycle? Tandem recumbent bicycles can reach up to 50+ km/h and are not motor powered either.

    From information in the HTA, the motor assisted bicycle:
    -has a speed less than 50 km/h,
    -being less than 40 km/h requires a slow moving vehicle sign
    -in the abbreviation it states 32 km/h as the maximum speed, but not found in the HTA (can you see it there and cite me the section?)
    -be less than 55 kg
    -be less than 500 W
    -be less than 50 cc

    Putting this all together, does this mean that if I make a bicycle with an electric assist motor whose total speed goes less than 32 km/h, has less than 500W of energy, and where the assisted bicycle weighs less than 55 kg, and meets the standard safety features of a standard bicycle that is legal for roads —that this assisted bicycle is also legal and ok for use on city roads and secondary highways just like a regular bicycle?

    Thanks
    Walter

  4. Notes: odd timestamp in ministry email. added updated comment with included website sources and updated writing. Submitted to feedback form as requested.

  5. Sent : February 7, 2006 6:34:32 PM
    Subject: RE: Policy on Battery/Motor Assisted Bicycles Unclear

    Thank-you for your e-mail requesting clarification of the laws surrounding
    power-assisted bicycles. The government of Ontario recognizes that electric
    bicycles offer new mobility options, and are environmentally friendly and
    fuel-efficient.

    Currently, the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not address electric bicycles
    & their operation on our roads. As a result, this vehicle currently falls
    under the definition of motor-assisted bicycle (moped). However, electric
    bicycles do not meet the safety requirements set out for mopeds (including
    lighting, etc.).

    The ministry is currently working with stakeholders to discuss the use of
    power-assisted bicycles on roadways using, for the most part, the same rules
    as bicycles. We are hoping to make an announcement this spring regarding
    their use. In creating new regulations for these vehicles, the ministry is
    paying close attention to the advise of the Canadian Council of Motor
    Transport Administrators, as laid out in their Best Practices for
    Power-Assisted Cycles document. This document was distributed to all
    provinces in 2002 in order to promote standard policies on electric
    bicycles’ safety and operational requirements across Canada.

    Once again, we thank you for your interest in Ontario’s new vehicle
    policies.

  6. Success! e-bikes now legal in Ontario.

    Electric bikes get street legal

    “””In a three-year pilot project announced yesterday, electric bikes, which range in price from $600 to $2,000, are legal anywhere regular bikes are ridden.

    [….]

    Cansfield, appointed in May, came to the job from the Ministry of Energy where, before becoming minister, she worked on conservation initiatives.
    Some e-bikes — already allowed in most provinces, ministry officials say — were on display yesterday, some with the ability to move the rider without pedalling and others that power up only when the pedals move.
    They featured handlebar brakes and gear shifters, and looked like regular bikes. But a key starts the motor, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery.
    On some models the motor sat between the two wheels. On others, the motor rested between the spokes of the back wheel.
    The battery plugs into a regular socket to recharge, and the bikes on display yesterday typically take 2 1/2 to three hours to charge.
    Ontarians aged 16 and up can ride the bikes, which by law cannot have a motor with more than 500 watts of power or generate a maximum speed over 32 km/h. E-bike owners do not have to get a special licence, registration or insurance. Riding an e-bike underage or without a helmet could net fines ranging from $250 to $2,500.”””


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