Ontario unveils e-bike rules

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Ontario has officially granted electric bikes the same access to the streets as standard two-wheelers.

Plug-in e-bikes can be pedalled like a regular bicycle or travel with the assistance of the electric motor. Under the provincial definition, they weigh less than 120 kilograms and may not be modified to travel faster than 32 km/h, setting them apart from gasoline-powered scooters and motorcycles.

E-bikes have become more common in the past three years – the time the province has been studying where they fit in the traffic equation.

Prior to that they were treated as limited-speed motorcycles or mopeds under the Highway Traffic Act.

The rules are meant to counter concerns by standard cyclists, who say the weight and speed of e-bikes can pose a threat, especially in bike lanes and on paths and trails. But e-bike access to those amenities is up to individual municipalities, according to the province. Toronto permits e-bikes to use cycling paths and lanes.

Under Ontario's rules, e-bike riders must be at least 16 and wear a bike or motorcycle helmet. Electric bikes are not allowed on provincial highways.


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