September 18, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
OPP in Elliot Lake made an interesting arrest last weekend. CTV Northern Ontario reported that the OPP spotted an e-bike with two people on it, and that it was weaving down the road. When the police turned on their lights to pull the bike over the e-bike rider flipped them the finger. You can imagine that didn't end well for the bike riders. The OPP pulled them over and issued the 32-year-old driver an impaired driving charge.
E-bikes falls under the Criminal Code of Canada's definition of a motor vehicle, so drunk riders can be charged with impaired driving charges. The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario, however, doesn't classify the e-bike as a motor vehicle. Because e-bikes have pedals, they're considered bicycles.
Information from the MTO regarding e-bikes:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What safety requirements are in place for e-bikes?
To operate an e-bike on Ontario's public roads, the following vehicle safety and operator requirements are in place :
- E-bikes must not weigh more than 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery).
- All operators and passengers must be at least 16 years of age.
- All operators and passengers must wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets.
- All electrical terminals must be completely covered.
- Two independent braking systems consistent with requirements for motorcycles and motor-assisted bicycles (mopeds) that applies force to each wheel and is capable of bringing the e-bike, while being operated at a speed of 30 km/h, to a full stop within 9 metres from the point at which the brakes were applied.
- The minimum wheel width or diameter cannot be less than 35mm/350mm.
- No modifications to the motor to allow it to exceed a power output greater than 500W and a speed greater than 32 km/h.
The battery and motor must be securely fastened to the vehicle to prevent them from moving while the e-bike is operating.
Q2: Can I remove the pedals from my e-bike?
No. If you remove the pedals from your e-bike, it is no longer considered to be an e-bike because it does not conform with the Highway Traffic Act definition of a power-assisted bicycle. Removing the pedals makes it an illegal vehicle. You could be ticketed for operating a motor vehicle without registration and insurance.
Q3: Can I modify my e-bike so it can go faster than 32 km/h?
No. Modifying your e-bike to increase its speed beyond 32 km/h will no longer qualify it as an e-bike.
Q4: My e-bike weighs more than 120 kg. Can I ride it in Ontario?
Currently, only e-bikes weighing 120 kg and under are allowed on Ontario's public roads as e-bikes. A weight greater than 120 kg will no longer qualify as an e-bike. You may then face moped or limited-speed motorcycle licensing, registration and insurance requirements.
Q5: Can I operate an e-bike if my driver's licence has been suspended?
It depends on the particular circumstances that led to your licence suspension. If your licence is suspended because of a conviction that has resulted in a driving prohibition under the Criminal Code of Canada, you cannot legally operate an e-bike.
If your driver's licence has been suspended under other circumstances, you should discuss your situation with a licensed legal practitioner before deciding to operate an e-bike.
Q6: Can I carry passengers on my e-bike?
You can carry passengers on your e-bike if it was designed for more than one person. Passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person.
You should check the manufacturer's information to see if your e-bike was designed to carry passengers. E-bike passengers must be at least 16 years old.
Q7: What are the penalties for riding an e-bike while drunk?
Drinking and driving a motor vehicle is a Criminal Code offence and charges are laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. Under the Criminal Code, the definition of a "motor vehicle" includes an e-bike, and anyone operating an e-bike intoxicated could be charged for impaired driving. If convicted, the offender would be subject to the Criminal Code penalties, including a fine or jail time, and a driving prohibition.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, an e-bike is not classified as a motor vehicle, so penalties for impaired driving under the Act would not apply.
Q8: Can municipalities pass by-laws prohibiting e-bikes?
Yes. Municipalities have the ability to prohibit where e-bikes may travel on roads, paths, trails and other property under their jurisdiction.