In this photo taken Wednesday, May 15, 2019, customer Torre Treece, left, talks with Rad Power Bikes sales associate Becs Richards about the two electric bikes he bought at the shop in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

In this photo taken Wednesday, May 15, 2019, customer Torre Treece, left, talks with Rad Power Bikes sales associate Becs Richards about the two electric bikes he bought at the shop in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Treat an e-bike like a motorcycle, you’ll get penalized like a motorcycle driver

Vancouver Island police give tips on regulations as electric bicycles continue to grow in popularity

Confused regarding the use of e-bikes and their place on the roads?

RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre says recent case law has shaped the way police may deal with e-bike operators.

Officially, e-bikes do not require a licence or insurance if they are pedal-assisted, are under a certain wattage and cannot operate beyond a 33 km/h0ur threshold.

However, this means they must be treated as bicycles.

RELATED: Victoria student out $600 for lack of e-bike insurance blames confusing rules

RELATED: Campbell River sees COVID-19 cycling boom

Where e-bike riders are getting into an issue is how the e-bikes are being used. To be treated as a bicycle, an ebike or escooter must be an equivalent to that of a bicycle, meaning:

  • Pedals must be attached during operation;
  • Cyclists are to use the three feet of rideable surface at the side of the roadway (Not riding down the middle of the road for the entirety of your journey-you can take a lane if you are turning at an intersection)
  • No doubling (for most of these E-bikes, there is absolutely no way to access the pedals to assist your engine if you are doubling another person)

Presently, there is no insurance or licence available for e-bike operation, but when the bikes weigh several hundred pounds, they become an extremely dangerous commodity on the road if not operated the way in which they were intended.

Police say there have been pedestrians struck, accidents, failed signals, and failures to stop associated with these e-bikes over the past year. For the most part, the operators at those times were very much treating their e-bike like a motor bike and operating in a dangerous manner including operating while being impaired.

At this point it is very much an officer’s discretion whether an operator of an e-bike will be pulled over, spoken to, or ticketed. For the most part that is based on their ability to follow the rules associated to cycling or whether they are treating their e-bike like a motorbike, Tyre said.

If using the E-bike like a motor bike, operators may see fines for:

  • Operating a vehicle with no insurance: $596
  • Drive without a valid licence: $368

“Police have found that some of the e-bike operators are individuals who have lost their licences to drive for various reasons over the years and unfortunately they have transferred that unwillingness top follow road rules to their new form of transportation,” Tyre says. “It’s these same bad drivers that have brought the extra scrutiny to e-bike operations.”

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