E-bikes need better regulation

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Sir: I have a safety concern regarding our roads in Chatham-Kent. Recently I witnessed my third near- accident involving e-bikes and traffic trying to negotiate around them.

The last e-bike was actually towing a trailer containing a large, unattached garbage pail! It had no lights, indicators or even reflectors on the trailer. I wondered if this could possibly be legal.

So I Googled “Canadian laws regarding e-bikes.” The first web site to appear was from a manufacturer of e-bikes.

They offered a handy Q&A guide and several links to Ministry of Transportation laws. Here is the surprising information that I learned:

“Owning an Electric Bike in Canada is easy. These vehicles are also known as power assisted bicycles, electric scooters, e-bikes and e-scooters, and the laws for them are very similar to a traditional bicycle. They require no license, plates or insurance to own or operate.”

That to me seems to be specifically appealing to the ability to avoid the laws that apply to other motorized vehicles.

They also provided a handy list of accessories not required by law on an e-bike:

“Indicators and sources of illumination, lighting system and retro reflective devices, mirrors, trailer cargo anchoring device.”

Aren’t these important road safety devices??

“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.”

Is anyone checking this? I’m sure many e-bike riders do not have suspended licences, but when I see one riding down the road with a case of beer on the back … I wonder.

Doesn’t the second statement seem to suggest loopholes?

 

“You don’t need a driver’s licence, vehicle permit, insurance or licence plate to ride an e-bike”

So what if a driver hurts someone or causes an accident? If they don’t have insurance or the ability to pay, the victims are left without recourse?

 

“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.”

Finally some hope; we as a municipality have the ability to make some common sense rules.

I would like to appeal to all city council members to consider making a few common sense rules regarding e-bikes on our roads.

Most conscientious e-bike riders should have no problem abiding to the rules of the road enforced upon all other drivers.

Please, before changes are required because of a serious injury or even death.

Cheryl Doher

Chatham

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