When the federal government created a new category of Power Assisted Bicycles (PAB) in 2002, the BC government was one of the first that adopted this category and the ICBC was the provincial legislator who enacted the federal MVSA regulations in BC and classified them as Motor Assisted Cycles (MAC). Later all provinces in Canada enacted the federal regulations and now electric cycles that are limited to 32km/h, have motor not exciting nominal power of 500W, and are equipped with pedals are road legal across Canada. Our company was the first in Canada that started selling the two categories Motorino MAC – pedal assist and power on demand as the federal and provincial MVSA differentiate them. Our MAC were inspected numerous times by Senior Regulatory Enforcement Officers from Transport Canada and at their entry to Canada by Canadian Customs for compliance of the MVSA.
After the electric bikes started becoming popular we receive signals from e-bike riders that local Police Departments contradicted their use by issuing they users tickets for no insurance and driver’s license. In June 2013 the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police submitted a request to the government to consolidate the E-Bike and Moped definitions requiring owners of E-Bikes to comply with licensing and permit regulations for Moped and increase their speed of electric bikes to 50km/h.
It is a fact that Mopeds can not be seen now anywhere in Canada since they were regulated in the late 70ties requiring their users to have a registration, driver’s license, and insurance.
The response of the MTO was: The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is a strong supporter of initiatives that expand mobility options for Ontarians, improve air quality, facilitate active transportation, and promote green technologies.
Our current e-bike program was the result of extensive consultations with road safety, environmental and cycling experts, as well as key stakeholders representing e-bike operators, cyclists, retailers, manufacturers and law enforcement to minimize safety concerns, primarily related to some of the larger, heavier e-bikes.
At this time, the ministry has no plans to further regulate e-bikes or their operators. We are aware of the various concerns expressed by members of the public and key road safety stakeholders such as the OACP. We always appreciate the feedback we receive and will continue to consult with an array of stakeholders as part of our ongoing monitoring of e-bike safety issues.
The response from the MTO unequivocally shows that the intention of the government was to create simple, low speed, two-wheel category of motorised cycles to operate on Canadian roads without the need for costly insurance, licensing and restrictive regulatory constraints which the larger, more powerful vehicles require. Their intention was enacted in CMVSA in 2002, adopted one year later by the BC government and publish on BC laws page:
There was a court case against a MAC rider accused riding a vehicle without insurance and registration – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/cyclists-getting-ticketed-for-no-insurance-blame-confusing-e-bike-legislation-1.5278601
The MAC user won in court because the cycle he was using was not classified as a vehicle according to the regulations but the reaction of the ticket issuer commented after the case: “My enforcement pattern likely will not change as a result of the court findings today,”
There was a similar court decision recently which was disputed by the defendant at the BC Supreme court. This time the court ruled against the cyclist based on three reasons:
Requirements to start the bike by peddling
-The current BC Regulation does not, however, require the use of human power to propel the cycle as stated in the proposal of the Motor Vehicle Act reform by the BC Cycling coalition – https://www.bccc.bc.ca/motor-vehicle-act-reform
Size of the wheels – this is based on a misunderstanding as all Motorino MAC wheels are above the required size of 35cm
The intention of the lawmakers that the motor must assist peddling rather than propelling the bike.
We have objected the court decision in our blog: https://motorino.ca/blog/post/strongly-opposed-e-bike-rider-loses-court-case-against-ticket-for-operating-without-licence-insuranc/
The final decision of the court in our opinion is subjective because it is based on the presumable intention of the legislators based on the MAC definition rather than the clauses of the law.
From the response of the MTO (quoted above) it can be concluded that the intention of the government was broader in terms of initiatives that expand mobility options for Ontarians, improve air quality, facilitate active transportation, and promote green technologies, rather than use or not use the pedals.
BC government intention was similar when the Minister of Transportation Honorable when the minister of transportation Clair Trevena proposed that the new changes of the MVA should reflect the emerging new transportation technologies for the sake of the environment without compromising the safety of our citizens. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-environment/active-transportation/motor-vehicle-act-pilot-projects
Speaking about safety I would like to reveal a scientific fact related to human safety in case of an impact with a moving object. The magnitude of the impact is caused by Kinetic energy (KE) of the moving object which is defined by the multiplication of the half of the mass of this object with the square of the velocity of this object or KE=1/2MxV2
Considering many references, a regular cyclist usually rides between 25 and 40km/h. A restricted speed electric bike can only go 32km/h. If we use the above formula considering the same weight of 75kg of the cyclist, 25kg of the regular bike and 50kg weight of the electric bike with 40km/h for the regular bike vs 32km/h for 50kg electric bike, the result is that a regular bike powered by human power the result is that a cyclist with 40km/h impact will be 629kg/sqm vs 508kg/sqm for restricted to 32km/h electric bike. Moreover electric bike that its speed can not be effectively increased because of the limitation of peddling can not attain much bigger kinetic energy. However the world record of a human-powered bicycle is 268km/h. This may be an explanation of why there are more casualties caused by irresponsible cyclists than caused by electric bikes:
I would say that the look of the cycle should not be a reason to be discriminated but the regulations should be properly carved and enforced.
If the regulations are changed in terms of discriminating a particular group of transportation based on the majority of the opponents of electric bikes we may create a precedent of suppressing the rights and freedoms of minority groups that consider this as their only transportation due to financial or medical reasons. This is a principal of the constitutional democracy and therefore in the modern democracy the courts are vested in more power to prevent discriminating particular groups of our society instead of restricting their rights.