Bike Lane Blues I: e-bikes

Recently I stopped a person riding a scooter in the bike lane and pointed out to them that they were breaking the law. I was informed that, because it had pedals, this “e-bike” was indeed permitted in the bike lane. I apologized and told the rider I didn’t know that, then proceeded on my way.

image from Ministry of Transportation http://www.mto.gov.on.ca

As it turns out, it’s not that simple. What is an e-bike, and what can it do? Read more here.

According to Ontario law, “E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel.” However, it also makes room for municipalities to prohibit e-bikes from “municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction.”

Indeed, according to City of Toronto bike lane bylaws, “bicycles must be propelled by muscular power.” So the rider in question was right, with the small caveat that the pedals have to be not only present, but used.

All this is fine, but what am I supposed to do next time, make a citizen’s arrest? If only traffic police considered it part of their mandate to make cycling safer and easier, I might not have to worry about this kind of thing.


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