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September 28, 2012



I bike to work everyday and the vast majority of those days, I use a good old fashioned bicycle. However, there are some days where my scooter-like e-bike is my preferred choice. Since purchasing my e-scooter, I no longer require a car. Does an e-scooter use more resources than my good ol' bike? Absolutely. But it is nowhere near what was used for the car I have now given up. I think we need to stop judging people who chose to ride these things - they may have their own legitimate reasons for choosing one. That being said, I would never ride mine on the sidewalk, etc. I'd be fine if there were some slightly different expectations with e-scooters vs e-bikes but that could get tricky legislatively speaking.

Peter Parker

To start, I guess we need to evaluate why regular bicycles are allowed to be ridden on bike paths and on multi-use trails, and why they don't need to be licensed unlike motor vehicles.

You seem to suggest that it's because they are better for the environment. While I happen to think that's a good reason to encourage bicycles, I don't think that's the origin of the current laws.

Likely, the exceptions that exist are a result of the limited damage that bicycles can do to people or property. This meant that, dating back to the beginnings of automobiles, cars were exempt from many of the rules set out for cars and trucks.

Add to this the fact that, when these social norms were first made in the early 1900s, most people's bikes didn't go particularly fast either. Bikes are also generally quiet so they don't disturb natural scenery, and most people see them as aesthetically pleasing and non-threatening.

These days, are cyclists being protected with bike lanes and segregated bike paths or rewarded for their environmentally sound choices? Are they allowed to travel on multi-use paths because they pose little threat, or as a perk for helping to save the environment?

After asking these questions, we need to ask whether other sources of transportation have these same qualities.

Does an e-bike, and e-scooter, or even a small gas-powered bicycle pose a danger to property, pedestrians or regular cyclists? Even if they don't, do pedestrians and regular cyclists *perceive* them as a danger, owing to their size, weight, speed, etc? Do regulations limiting speed, weight, size affect this threat?

If it's environmentalism that we're rewarding, does a scooter like the one depicted above pose enough of an environmental good to reward its riders? Does a small gas engine provide enough fuel efficiency versus a single-driver car to be rewarded? In a province dependent upon nuclear energy for 37% of its electricity, and coal & gas for 29%, is an e-scooter environmentally friendly enough? How "pedal-able" does an e-bike have to be to be considered a bike with power assist, rather than an e-scooter with pedals?

Steven Grummett

No, I don't consider these as bicycles. They are electric scooters classified by good ole Dalton McGuinty as bicycles.You don't need to be 16 to ride a bicycle, you do with these. Hopefully the next premier of Ontario will have the sense to change the classification to what it should be.
The only thing these scooters have in common with bicycles is that the people who ride them show no respect or courtesy to those around them.


Peter Parker raises a raft of relevant questions here! In part, these questions and more specifically the acceptability of e-scooters has been studied by the NCC in depth, as well as by several communities. In most cases, they are decided that, for various reasons, while e-scooters may be great transportation for a bevy of reasons, it's not appropriate that they be used on shared or multi-use pathways, bike lanes, and roads closed for "bicycle events", and have taken steps to ban them.

My understanding is that MTO is conducting a deeper review of the different forms of alternative vehicles (as they call them) that have emerged, the patterns of usage that have emerged along with them, and the benefits and problems that have arisen.

What we may find is that new clarification of vehicle types from MTO will see e-scooters in their own category, without a requirement for those barely-functional vestigial pedals, perhaps with relaxed battery/power restrictions, and also a requirement for licensing similar to LSMs (Low Speed Motorcycles, a.k.a. mopeds).

Indeed, take the pedals off e-scooters, add some heftier battery/motor capability, and we'd have a beautiful alternative to traditional mopeds.

That would leave the e-bike definition for vehicles that look and can be ridden as bicycles, with the added benefit of electric motor assist within specified limits.

For the National Capital Commission's study and decision on e-scooters, a study that has informed the decisions in other communities, see: http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/sites/default/files/pubs/public-consultation-report-rules-pertaining-to-electric-bikes-and-other-electric-powered-vehicles.pdf


Steve Fitzpatrick

I think the E scooters are a magnificent innovation, they provide affordable mobility to folks who otherwise would be homebound. I do think though they should not be permitted on pedestrian sidewalks due to their size, speed and weight and their potential to inflict damage. Cycle lanes and multiuse trails would be OK provided the rider observed the rules of Right of Way and of the road.
As an aside, Ebikes are the only conveyance that are regulated by speed capability. Why are PMV's allowed to be sold and licensed that are capable of double the legal speed limit on most highways?


The most ridiculous thing about these e-scooters is that they are basically just as capable as an old gasoline moped (49cc engine, 30km/h top speed) and at least the moped is noisy so you can hear it sneaking up on you.

The gasoline moped has to have a license plate and insurance. One also needs a valid M1 or G1 at least to drive a moped. I think they've made a low-speed motorcycle licence in the years since I've had my moped so I don't think they need pedals anymore.

The thing is that these e-scooters and my gasoline moped were about the same size, went about the same speed and could do similar damage to people or bicycles in a collision. I don't see why switching from gaoline to batteries makes these things any safer to mingle with peds and bikes nor do I see why one doesn't need a valid licence for e-scooters. I think they should follow the same rules as I had to with my gas moped. The greater mass of a scooter or moped (gas or electric) is what makes them more dangerous in collisions.

These things also contain many batteries full of heavy metals so they are a real pain to recycle since they use a lot of plastic too. Bicycles and old motors recycle much easier.

I also think cyclists that ride fast on the trails should just go and use the side streets or something, there's no need to whiz by people at 25 or 30 km/h.

All the work to regulate low speed two-wheeled motorized cycles has already been done but our asinine bureaucracy has seen fit to reinvent the wheel for no particular reason.

Kevin Johnson

I think we need to look at making proper small motorcycles for city use... but this will only work if we make then environmentally friendly, easy (and safe) to drive in traffic AND create an affordable bike insurance system.

As an ex-motorcycle driver myself, I know how dangerous an UNDERpowered bike is.


The ebike in the picture has taken over my neighbourhood in St. Catharines. Daily I see them up and down the bike lanes here.

I wouldn't have an issue with them, but when passing they barely leave the bike lane -- leaving less then an inch when passing.

And I'm seeing this more and more...

Fred Weigel


will kill this mode of transport. Yes, it is a "bicycle" in the same way a velomobile is. I ride one, and it doesn't replace a bicycle, it replaces a car.

- Speed Limited (32kph)
- Weight Limited (120kg)
- Power Limited (500W - aka 3/4 horsepower)
- Stopping distance legally specified (9 meters)
- Braking system legally specified (dual, independent)
- Must have functional pedals
- Helmet required
- 16+ years of age
- No more than 3 wheels on the ground

In exchange for this, the vehicle is given a pass and declared a bicycle. This was done to ENCOURAGE their use, in place of cars (yes, I do have a valid drivers license, and a clean record, and I do own a car). Remember, every e-bike is one less car on the road.

Note that all e-bikes, "bicycle style", "scooter style", "velomobile style", or something not yet conceived fall under the same set of restrictions.

These machines are MORE environmentally friendly than pedal bikes -- food is transported and processed using oil. Your body can only extract a certain amount for use. In comparison, these vehicles are 80% (and possibly higher) efficient, making the total carbon footprint lower. And, MUCH more efficient than cars, or buses.

As a commuter using one of these, I will state that if this is over-regulated, I will simply start using a car again.

What is reasonable regulation? Sure, not on the sidewalks. Bike paths? I use them, and consider it reasonable, given the speed/power restriction (I can't "compete" safely with cars). Bike trails? You decide.

I am currently a supporter of bike paths and trails. If I can't use my e-bike, I won't be.


Kevin, can you please explain? Why is an underpowered bike dangerous?

Peter Parker

Seems this issue is heating up in Toronto:


Peter Lehman

Hmmm. Guess I need to eat more locally. Putting bicycles and pedestrians together on the same path makes as much sense as putting bicycles on the road. On the road my "squishable" body cannot compete with a ton or more of crumple zones and steel. On a bike path I am a 25 km/h mass that cannot react with the same agility as the average child or dog. A responsible cyclist announces his or her approach and slows down appropriately until eye contact can be made with each ambulatory being sharing the trail. Safety requires respect.
About eBikes: These things are clearly motorised. They are simply not human powered. How do they qualify to be on trails marked "no motorised vehicles"? This is not the first time that the law has proven to make itself the object of ridicule. These are clearly not bicycles. A bicycle is one example of a human powered vehicle. It would have been just as easy to pass a law that required continuous human power input to operate the vehicle and also to require power assistance to automatically reduce itself as speed increased. It has been done in other countries and simply requires reprogramming the computer.
About community trails: Lets have what works in other places: separate paths and lanes for pedestrians and cyclists - human powered or otherwise. Keep it safe. Make it easy.

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Bill Bean

  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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