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E-bikes will now be allowed to use Toronto bike lanes

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 21, 2014

toronto e-bikeToronto city council says e-bikes are welcome in the bike lane. Going against the advice of the public works committee, councillors voted 23-17 to grant power-assisted bicycles use of the city's painted bike lanes late yesterday evening.

Previously, e-bikes and pedelecs - bicycles fitted with small motors - were required to share the road with motorists, though the laws were decidedly fuzzy. The official Toronto definition of a bicycle, the only vehicles allowed to use bike lanes, was limited to muscle-powered devices.

Under the new rules created via a motion by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, e-bikes will still be banned from off-road trails, footpaths, and physically separated bike lanes, like the ones recently added to Sherbourne Street.

Mayor Rob Ford, Doug Ford, Mike Del Grande, Karen Stintz, and several other conservative-leaning councillors with Pam McConnell, Paula Fletcher, and regular cyclist Glenn De Baeremaeker voted in favour of the changes.

Cycling group Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists was swift to condemn the decision. "Any injuries to cyclists caused by e-bikes in bike lanes will be City Council's responsibility," the group tweeted.

A 2013 study by Toronto's Transportation Services devision found almost half of e-bike riders thought the vehicles should be allowed in the bike lane. Just 12% of cyclists agreed, citing the size, speed, and weight of e-bikes as a safety concern. The motorized scooters are significantly heavier compared to conventional bicycles and are capable of higher speeds.

"The likelihood of being injured when struck by a 120 kg vehicle [the maximum e-bike weight] travelling at 32 kmh [the maximum speed] is probably far greater than if struck by a lighter bicycle travelling at a slower speed," a city report on the matter said, though no collision data was available.

To fit the official definition of an e-bike, the vehicle must be fitted with functional pedals. No license or insurance is required; riders must be over 16 and wear a bicycle or motorcycle helmet, the law says.

The cities of Ottawa and Mississauga both allow e-bikes to use bike lanes.

Advocacy group Cycle Toronto has a permanent statement regarding e-bikes on its website. "We do not believe electric scooters should be permitted to use infrastructure intended for active transportation, as their speed, size and weight make them hazardous to others within those confines," it says.

What do you think of the decision? Do e-bikes pose a safety risk to cyclists? Should bicycles learn to share the lane with e-bikes?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Vic Gedris/blogTO Flickr pool.



Ken Sintgon / February 21, 2014 at 12:48 am
Fuck this poor decision.

"A 2013 study by Toronto's Transportation Services devision found almost half of e-bike riders thought the vehicles should be allowed in the bike lane. Just 12% of cyclists agreed"

As a cyclist AND a driver in this city, I'd love to get a background on the half of these e-bikers who voted in favour of using the bike lanes. In the past week alone, I have seen at least 4 e-bikes swerving in-and-out of traffic, or on the sidewalk, between the boundaries of Davenport-Spadina-Queen-Lansdowne. To be transparent, I was driving at the time.

As a cyclist, I have had nothing but annoyance with e-bikes. Too big to maneuver through tight spots, drivers too hesitant to maintain the flow of traffic, cutting in and out of traffic...

It's a MOTORIZED VEHICLE that weighs far more than a cyclist on a thin-framed bike.

Many dead horses will be flogged off of this post - I am not a perfect cyclist. I try to take back roads to avoid traffic, I do run stop signs (when there's no other traffic), I use my bike as a primary source of transportation in the warmer months, and I'm thrilled with the contra-flow lane on Shaw St., as I used to ride the wrong way up that street to get home.

As a responsible cyclist AND driver, I'd like a background check on just who is driving e-bikes in the city, and I'd like the results to be posted to the public - do they have drivers licenses? Are there any outstanding charges on said licenses (many people refer to e-bikes as 'DUI-mobiles') If it means a police blitz on cyclists as a whole, so be it. From personal observation, all e-bikes I've encountered have been a hindrance to traffic in car lanes and bike lanes, and would like a firm designation on these vehicles once and for all.
Ken / February 21, 2014 at 05:39 am
And how many MORE bicyclists run red lights, continue riding when emergency vehicles running sirens passes by, filter through traffic illegally, ride on sidewalk and through pedestrian crosswalks, ride on the wrong side of the road, ride in the wrong direction on one way streets and the list goes on and on!!!!

The bicyclists should not be allowed to state about bad apple e-bike riders until the bicyclists themselves start following the rules of the road that they are complaining about us breaking as well. Talk about a pot calling the kettle black!
Adam H. / February 21, 2014 at 07:24 am
You realize this makes no difference, right? There is no enforcement. E-bikes use separated lanes and multi-use trails all the time and the cops don't give a shit about it.
Ken / February 21, 2014 at 07:56 am
I just realized PEOPLE do this stuff regardless of the mode of transportation method they use. Cars, Bikes, Walking, E-Bikes.

What I don't realize is that motorized vehicles in a lane dedicated to bicycles is a bad idea, most likely because I am an idiot!
orillia3 replying to a comment from Ken Sintgon / February 21, 2014 at 07:58 am
@Ken Sintgon It did not take a study to figure out cyclists do not want to share their privileged exclusive use of bike lanes. I could have told them that for nothing.

Maybe when I see cyclists acting responsibly on the road, I might take their comments more seriously. Running reds and stop signs, sidewalk riding, illegal filtering, ignoring stopped street cars, riding at night with no lights, and general bad behavior seems to be part of the cycling experience.

Ebikes are more or less the same width as bicycles, if you bother to take out your tape measure and see, and generally the same length. They tend to be more maneuverable and stable with their smaller wheels and low centre of gravity, and generally have better brakes, lighting, and mirrors, and horns generally are standard equipment.

Ebikes already have a strict definition and legislation governing their use, see the Federal MVSA and the Ontario HTA under "bicycles" (includes ebikes), "motor vehicles" (excludes ebikes), and "power-assisted bicycles" (what ebikes are). We do not need another layer of legislation defining and governing them, just use what is there.

@Adam H. Maybe the TPS have better things to do than go after ebikes that are no more or less a danger to themselves and others than bicycles are, and who have been banned because of political pressure couched in vague "safety concerns" by cyclists who do not want to share their privileged position on shared trails and exclusive position on bike lanes and bike tracks. Rightfully police do not want ebikes in the live traffic lanes where they are slowing down car traffic, especially when there is a safe alternative.

orillia3 / February 21, 2014 at 07:59 am
I don't believe it. Toronto is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
Jennifer / February 21, 2014 at 08:13 am
The dialogue should not be about "bad"'cyclists, e-bike users or motorists. It should be about what is safest for everyone who obeys the rules. The fact is that bike lanes were created for pedal powered vehicles, (Not just vehicles that may have pedals, but those that are actually used) because it is safer for cyclists and also for motorists. Once you add a heavier, faster, motorized vehicle to those lanes, the whole purpose has been defeated. E-bikes can much more easily share the lanes with cars (if driven properly) than bikes can (even if ridden properly) and that's where they should lanes for motorized vehicles. The Public Works Committee had it right based on safety not opinion, and the councillors who voted to change the law are irresponsible. Call your councillor and hold them accountable for this dangerous decision.
steve replying to a comment from Ken / February 21, 2014 at 08:14 am
Spoken like a true car driving elitist. How many times does it need to be pointed out people that drive cars are some of the worst and most dangerous on the road. Due to the size and power of the vehicles they drive.
Reckless cyclists are of a danger mostly to themselves.
Once more it will be pointed out that is you take all cyclists off the road due to the few that appear to be out of control, it is more imperative we takes all motorists off the road.
Man Up! / February 21, 2014 at 08:14 am
These things should be banned! Majority of the ebike riders I see are pathetic losers in life who have no idea about road rules and safety. They also think they have the right to alternate between the sidewalk,bike lanes or street when riding. Last summer I even seen a loser ebiker trying to ride on the shoulder of the DVP during rush hour! There's no limit to their stupidity and they don't seem to care about anybody else.
Wow... / February 21, 2014 at 08:57 am
...this is such a bad idea.

Mark my words: this will cause more accidents (both e-bike on bike, and e-bike on car, when they swerve suddenly into traffic) than they realize.
Adam H. replying to a comment from orillia3 / February 21, 2014 at 09:19 am
When you feckless drivers stop demanding that cyclists be held responsible for what others do while you never take responsibility for your own actions, you'll have a credible opinion.
Trevor / February 21, 2014 at 09:23 am
Allowed to use bike lanes? What bike lanes? Work on expanding the network then MAYBE consider...
Ben / February 21, 2014 at 09:24 am
Look, before this turns into a cars vs. bikes vs. pedestrians vs. bad cyclists vs. good cyclists blogTO comments shit show, can't we all just agree that everyone fucking hates ebikes and they suck no matter where they're allowed to drive?
dan replying to a comment from orillia3 / February 21, 2014 at 09:40 am
Typical weak post we've seen over and over when it comes to cars/cycling in TO. Hey why don't I bring up the cars I saw run through a red on my walk to work or the one that drove through the streetcar stop?

Guess what? Idiots are idiots whether they are in a car, bike or e-bike.

You might have an issue with how many poor cyclists there are out there, and there are many, there are still a significant portion who obey and are well aware of the rules of the road and safety required.

You also hear many on here say how "I drive and cycle, …"

My issue is I don't think I know anyone who is a cyclist and drives an e-bike. Point being from what I've seen of e-bikers they don't adhere to the rules of the road either from a car or biking standpoint. One negative experience was taking a right down a side road (on a bike) and an e-bike passing me on the inside and missing me by about one foot.

I do think it's funny how any time these posts are made nobody comes on defending e-bikes and it turns into everyone crapping on cyclists or cars LOL
Ban ebikes / February 21, 2014 at 09:51 am
user-pic by definition, because so many cyclists already illegally ride on sidewalks, now we will have these f-ing things to worry about as well?!
Terry / February 21, 2014 at 09:52 am
Unless a kiddy bike, who has ever seen a reg bike that can't do over 32km??????
Scott / February 21, 2014 at 10:06 am
From a different perspective, I use an e-bike on a daily basis in the summer and love it. It feels so good to be outdoors, riding through different parks, watching people enjoying life, riding downtown.
The only difference being I have severe COPD with 20% lung function, and my e-bike is my freedom.
To categorize "all" e-bike owners/riders as irresponsible, is no different than to call "all" Harley owners as drug pushing gang members.
Perhaps prior to "hating" e-bikes, try a day in my life !
Wow... replying to a comment from Ben / February 21, 2014 at 10:11 am
Ben has it down pat...we shouldn't be turning on one another, tearing out each others' throats...we should be stacking and burning all e-bikes. Preferably in front of Councillor Asshat Minnan-Wong's home.
Wow... replying to a comment from dan / February 21, 2014 at 10:15 am
Good point Dan....e-bike users never post on here, and cyclists and motorists just end up bickering.

I wonder if it's either because people who ride e-bikes are careless a-holes who don't give a frig about being civic-minded, or whether they know they shouldn't be allowed where bikes should go, but they're staying mum and hoping laws will quietly change in their favour by vocal motorists shoving them out of their domain and into ours? Funny.
Johnny / February 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

Rather than bitch about it, I say the solution that *could* work for everyone is put a limiter on e-bikes that makes their top speed the same as the SLOWEST cyclist. Based on the last surveys I looked at, that was 14km/h.

That would at least be a lot safer.
W. K. Lis / February 21, 2014 at 10:50 am
Are motorized wheelchairs included in the list of vehicles not allowed on bike trails?
the lemur / February 21, 2014 at 10:52 am
Assuming the thing in the photo actually is an e-bike, it's where it belongs: in the main traffic lane. That's the whole point of their being able to do 32 km/h max: to keep up with motor vehicles in stop/go traffic conditions, not to create a hazard in the bike lanes.
e-bikes: dangerous for everyone / February 21, 2014 at 11:08 am
they are too quiet, move too fast, and the riders often over-confident in their ability to use instant torque/speed to "zip" their way out of any bottleneck before they're ensnared.

well, the issue with that is typically only couriers have that kind of ability, and their bikes are teeny-tiny and nearly weightless, so they generally pull stunt like that off without any effect on cyclist/motorist traffic flow behind them.

when e-bikes try to zip around impending issues, they often 1) spook cyclists by flying by unheard and, 2), then clumsily dart around them/parked cars/moving cars, thus spooking everyone behind them and actually CAUSING an issue.

e-bikes have their place--on road, middle of the lane, just like every other motorized traffic.

this new law is a BAD idea.
MC / February 21, 2014 at 11:13 am
Good. Now can we ban e-Bikes from sidewalks? Its dangerous to have someone who doesn't know how to drive come from out of nowhere on a 30km/h motorized vehicle that makes no noise when you're trying to walk.
Screw ebikes! / February 21, 2014 at 11:13 am
Ben is right. Ebikes are bad news for everybody. They should ban them completely!
collective moan / February 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
this. blows.
Wirebound / February 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
Tell that to the ebike that made a dent in our vehicle in December while the driver who was travelling down a road, in the dark, in freezing rain, with no lights on, and no helmet, ran right into us. The driver was not charged with dangerous driving, or for not wearing a helmet - they were only charged with having no lights. I'm sure this law will get repealed when someone dies from being hit by an ebike - lets just hope its one of the counsellors who voted this thing into law.
CW / February 21, 2014 at 11:48 am
As Adam H said, it doesn't matter because there is zero enforcement.

The guy riding his bike on the sidewalk today didn't seem to care about a getting ticket or that there wasn't enough room due to snow, ice, and water. Shouldn't we take this more seriously than an e-bike in a bike lane?
Jacob / February 21, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Personally, I find it difficult to reconcile banning e-bikes from bike lanes with also advocating for bikes having greater access and more leeway on the road. Drivers will level a lot of similar arguments to try and assert that bikes shouldn't be allowed to use car lanes, or why cyclists should be licensed, which I don't agree with.

So I'm okay with e-bikes using bike infrastructure, but their capabilities need to be even more limited than they already are. They travel much faster, can sustain that high speed much longer and accelerate much more suddenly than regular bikes. It may be possible for hardcore cyclists to travel in the neighborhood of 32kmh, but most don't go anywhere near that fast for extended periods, especially in areas with lots of uphill.

So let them use bike lanes, but slow them down and limit their acceleration.
chuck charles / February 21, 2014 at 01:23 pm
get off yr ebike and ride a REAL BIKE!


you are a motorized vehicle, deal the the cars,, you lazy wimps.
Judy / February 21, 2014 at 01:38 pm
So the 2013 Transportation study also asked about issues such as licensing, insuring and providing road safety education to e-bike riders. What was the response to that data?
"A 2013 study by Toronto's Transportation Services division found almost half of e-bike riders thought the vehicles should be allowed in the bike lane. Just 12% of cyclists agreed, citing the size, speed, and weight of e-bikes as a safety concern". Not even half of the e-bike riders believe they belong in the bike lane (because they don't!!!). Council is full of it.
orillia3 replying to a comment from Judy / February 21, 2014 at 02:38 pm
@Judy The so called survey's participants were not vetted as to authenticity so we do not really know who took the survey, and how many times. I took the survey (once) and it was incredibly biased, not giving proper options to the participants and skewing choices, to the point it would not stand under scientific peer review, so to base opinion and indeed policy and law on it is foolishness.
Mckegs / February 21, 2014 at 02:46 pm
E-Bikes are the worst. They are for lazy pieces of shit that just don't want to peddle.

As for all the ignorant yet typical BlogTO comments about blanketing all cyclists as reckless, get real. Not all cyclists operate that way. I could just as easily say all motorists are blind assholes who do not look when opening doors, making right hand turns, drive/park in bike lanes, not give cyclists enough room.

It's not a war of cars vs. cyclists. It's a war against stupid assholes that don't know who to function in society.
mike in parkdale / February 21, 2014 at 03:00 pm
two points:

In some parts of the world, e-bikes are required to have noise makers so that they are heard when approaching. If a silent ebike is passing a cyclist on the road (or a walker on the sidewalk), there's no advanced warning.

point two:

a lot of people I've seen on ebikes probably wouldn't be able to pass a safety test. Ontario already has a 'RS' (reduced speed) class for the Motorcycle license which is designed for scooters. If you need a license to ride a 50cc scooter that can hit 40km/h then you should have one for an ebike that can do the same speed.
Mike / February 21, 2014 at 03:15 pm
Fuck this decision. All from a guy who admittedly can't ride a bike!
john jabroni / February 21, 2014 at 07:45 pm
Class Warfare is what this is. People with lower incomes are taking advantage of these for cheap transportation. The rich car people and the self-righteous d-bag cyclists cant stand to share the road with the less fortunate.
john jabronski / February 21, 2014 at 07:48 pm
if youre a cyclist and youre afraid of an ebike you shouldnt be on the road
mikeB / February 21, 2014 at 09:56 pm
The e-bikes are already there, so it's not like it changes anything. Even if more e-bikes come in, perhaps their greater size, weight, and velocity will give drivers more reason to avoid dipping into bike lanes.

What's really needed is enforcement of all traffic laws in this city. It's a mess.

That and public education about how cyclusts should deal with cars turning right at an intersection (hint: it's not scooting through on the inside and getting indignant that they continue making their turn).
Roger replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / February 21, 2014 at 09:58 pm
Which parts of the world require e-bikes to have noise makers? This is news to me.

Point 2: There's no such thing as "RS" (reduced speed) class of motorcycle license in Ontario. Perhaps you're confused with the LSM "Low Speed Motorcycle" designation, which was originally created for mopeds. 50cc scooters can easily hit 60-70km/hr while e-bikes are limited to a top speed of 32km/hr. Don't lump them into the same category.

Amanda replying to a comment from Ken / February 21, 2014 at 10:47 pm
Ok, how about the pedestrians walking in bike lanes or CARS AND OTHER MOTORIZED VEHICLES parking in designated bike lanes because their drivers are too lazy to park in a parking spot and walk. You can't say bicyclists have no right to speak out about 'bad apple e-bike riders' when you are either A. a pedestrian or B. a vehicle driver. I don't care how safe YOU are Ken, but until all pedestrians and motor vehicle operators are perfect, don't cut off bikes, park in bike lanes, j-walk, walk in lanes etc., then by your own standards you need to take your own advise and shut it! So either we're all quiet as the accidents mount, or us bicyclists can vocalize about the use of our lanes as much as other people whinge about non-bike lane roads with cyclists.
Luzmindo S. Isidro Jr. / February 22, 2014 at 10:53 am
Thank God. They finally allowed e-bikes to use designated bike lanes.

As e-bikes allows you NOT to use your GASOLINE car, that is FANTASTIC news.

Way to go Toronto councillors. Now, I hope Brampton's Susan Fennell and her crew can just get a GLIMPSE of this idead.

But first we got get money to paint bike lanes.

Hurray for e-bikes!!!!!
Ramon / February 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Why can't we just share the road people?? It is not the vehicle but the people behind or driving it. There will always be a bad apple on each type of vehicle may it be a bicycle, car, truck, e-bikes, tank if you want to include one. Isn't it better to educate than bash each other's head? I'm a car driver, a bicycle driver( I have 3 bike)and an e-bike driver at that, definitely a law abiding citizen. got honked, cursed, almost clipped by maybe e-bike haters when I'm riding one, but took all of it in stride. Not all of us are healthy or young and in the prime of their lives. Some of us have mobility problem especially the older ones which maybe have difficulty pedaling and e-bikes is one of the way they can move around. Some may have knee problem so they can't pedal. Some just want to cruise around without having to use their gasoline consuming cars and just want to go green. So you see it's the driver not the vehicle who is the problem admit it or not. Those who hates e-bike so much, why not try to be in one and educate people who are breaking the rule of the road? try to be more broad minded, try to understand than to blame. Maybe all they're(e-bike people) asking is acceptance. Safety is their concern too.
Just my two cents
George Tyler / February 22, 2014 at 02:53 pm
this article is nonsense. the picture is of an electric scooter, not an e-bike. I would not want to see a 120kg scooter in a bike lane! but an e-bike (a normal bicycle fitted with a small electric motor that does not help the bicycle to go faster than it could go on pedal power alone) is no problem for bike lanes, you would not even be able to pick out the ebikes from normal bikes except on hills. an ebike also only weighs about 10kg more than a bicycle and should be limited to a much lower weight than 120kg.
Chris / February 22, 2014 at 08:31 pm
Yep, that picture explains most E-Bikers.

Umbrella, seriously? While going 32km/h?
Having a secondary rider? Isn't that illegal?
Pouring rain?
Looks busy, better clog that entire lane.

They should ban low speed electric scooters and replace them with 60km/hr capable models. And then require insurance and licensing like other motorized vehicles. This is a huge joke having them be able to do whatever they want just because they are green, next thing you know Prius' will be able to use sidewalks.
Dan / February 23, 2014 at 01:02 am
No a 2nd rider isn't illegal if it has 2 seats. Just as tandem bicycles are not illegal.
Rafa / February 23, 2014 at 11:21 am
As a driver, not sure there is any impact for me, but seems like a bad decision for bicyclists.

In addition to the size, speed and weight arguments that have already been made, most e-bike riders I see tend to look like they lack a few marbles..or chromosomes.
DAn / February 23, 2014 at 09:36 pm
wohoo good for Ebikes we need more of them to reduce congestion on city streets

Smiley / February 24, 2014 at 09:34 pm
I ride an e-bike. It's small but it looks more like a scooter. I have a driver's license and I drive cars as well so I have a good knowledge of traffic rules and I obey them religiously, because it is the only way for me to protect myself and those whom I'm sharing the road with. I stop at all stop signs. Of course I will never run through orange light. I even let bicycles go ahead of me sometimes when they are going fast. What people don't understand is that the current regulation is creating a big grey-zone between human-powered bicycles and motorcycles. If you have any knowledge of how these vehicles are regulated outside Canada, you would know what I mean. If you don't, google it. In my opinion, motor-assisted electric bicycles and scooters should 1) all be licensed, 2) be given more power so it could go at the max speed in town (40-50), and 3) get everybody insured. Why max 32? I have to constantly let cars go by on my left hand side, at the same time fast bicycles are zooming through my right hand side. If the max remains at 32, I think it is perfectly fine to go on bike lanes. Cyclists' "privilege" is a false idea - all of them should obey traffic rules as other e-bike riders do. If e-bikers are riding at max 32, all cyclists should go at max 32, too.
mariposaman replying to a comment from Chris / February 25, 2014 at 12:11 am
@Chris. They already tried that, they were called mopeds, and are now a failed experiment, your proposal would just be an electric moped, and would also fail. Once you increase the speed, and require licence and insurance, one might as well get a full motorcycle and ride in the traffic proper, it does not make sense to require all the motorcycle costs and regulations, and not have the benefits. There are only about a thousand mopeds left on Ontario roads, and that number drops every year. They are for all intent extinct.
Rick / February 26, 2014 at 09:01 am
This is such a bad idea.
Toronto is becoming like China or Shanghi with all these rice-cycles zipping in and out traffic - is this seriously what you want the downtown core to become? The person that says its more eco friendly should be tared and featherd for such a dumb comment, these things are a hazard to others and a death trap for the driver.
Haley / February 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm
It is in the nature of humans to avoid change. It shakes our save ground and scares us. I don't drive an E-bike nor a Bicycle but i do drive a car Monday to Saturday to work. It is a pain in the ass and also unsafe to drive a car with bike lines all over the place. But that doesn't mean that we (car drivers) have the right to abolish them from the roads. You guys pay taxes too, I hope'. I'm not saying everybody could drive what they want (like a tank)in the city because they pay taxes. What I'm saying is that you also have the opportunity to be there. This e bikes are a change, but isn't that what we need in the city? I mean aren't we looking for less pollution, check, less traffic, check, etc. I'm glad you guys (bikers and e-bikers) are fighting like caveman's because it gives us, car drivers, more time with out bike lines being build. If I was in your position, I would become one unit and fight for better infrastructure for both bikes and e-bikes. So they are not all over the place.
Svend Petersen / February 26, 2014 at 02:47 pm
Marry Poppens tips the scale at City Hall

On January 9/14 a predestined hearing was held at Public Works City Hall relating allowing the limited speed E-Bikes in the bike lanes. It was defeated by a vote of 4 to 2 by a pre grafted motion from Mike Layton and pre supported by three other counsellors. Two who both affirmed that they like and ride like Marry Poppens and find E-Bikes are scary!!! The chair and counsellors with little or no knowledge of E-Bikes had no questions for the experts in attendance. Since the out come was predetermined the decision to defer was a Slam Dunk. So now we have Disney in charge of transportation in Toronto?

Svend Petersen
Svend Petersen / February 26, 2014 at 02:56 pm

E-bikes are Under Attack in the City of Toronto

A revolution has taken place in the transportation industry and it is regrettable that Canada has not been at the forefront but has decided to play second fiddle to the third world; an attitude I find, after a career in the manufacturing business, particularly embarrassing. Without decisive legislation and foresight, our fate is sealed. We will just be watching as the train goes by.

We like to think of ourselves as a world class city, progressive and forward thinking. I find it baffling that we neglect the elderly and those in need of assistance with impunity, and only the young and fittest have priority and any say in how our collective tax dollars are spent. A society is measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable. Our elected officials must be of the impression that the aged and physically challenged don’t vote. I think we would all like to change that attitude.

In the past 50 years while the population of Toronto has grown by more than a million people, no new roads have been built. All secondary roads have been placed off-line by one way streets, no turns, speed bumps and traffic calming devices - in essence reduced to private driveways. Most parts of Toronto are not navigable. Many of our main streets have been reduced to half the lanes they contained before to accommodate parked cars that never move and generate no revenue for the city. Designated streetcar lanes leave our precious infrastructure empty 95% of the time. The speed limits have been reduced by 30% and traffic lights have been added at the whim of local residents who long for the return of the horse and buggy. Not a bad idea if we could find a way to attach pedals.

The electric bike is a new development that is the most economical and efficient transportation system to date conceived by man. The e-bike comes complete with all the safety equipment that you need but do not find on a regular bike. It costs the taxpayer not a dime as it is totally paid for by the owner and all of this is achieved at a cost of 15 cents of electricity for 50 km. People think that walking is the least expensive mode but I invite you to try 50km for 15 cents. It is the only vehicle on the road with its speed governed by federal legislation rather than posted limits and in typical nanny state manner is saddled with slews of red herring objections and obstructive City Councillors who would rather discuss plastic bags instead.

At a time when people are aging and pressure is mounting to come to their aid, our legislators have decided to look the other way. When looking at the numbers of e-bikes sold, it’s a slam dunk, requiring no new infrastructure but the powers that be, thinking that 50 billion dollars will do the trick to solve our traffic problems that they alone have created, are being very short-sighted.

The police have decided that if your pedals are for some reason not in proper working order they have the right to harass and threaten people with $5000.00 fines. They claim that in some magical way you have changed the bike to a motorcycle. That is the same as a bicycle without a bell becomes an airplane, except that is a safety issue. They must have been instructed by someone. The by-law they are trying to enforce was written in the sixties, before the advent of e-bikes and bike lanes. The time is long past due to update that 50 year old bylaw and treat e-bike riding citizens with respect.

So we ask ourselves why the City of Toronto is so bent on banning the e-bike from our streets and bike lanes. The Department of Transport of Ontario has, after a three year moratorium, approved them although it was the second last province in Canada to do so. The built-in bike lobby at city hall has already banned this very efficient form of transportation from bike paths, parks and bike lanes without notifying taxpaying stakeholders and users of any meetings preceding legislative changes, if there are any. They have restricted access to the infrastructure paid for by the very people to whom they have denied access without due process. We are still waiting to find out how this was accomplished.

It leads us to believe that unless you are on a gurney you will never see the parks, trails and beaches that you have paid for all your life. A degree of fitness is now required that without precludes you enjoying these facilities. We as the elderly would like to thank the young and healthy for their kind and considerate vision and hope the next generation will look upon them with the same generosity. I encourage you to contact your city councillor and express your appreciation personally. I include a link to their names and numbers below and thank you for your attention.

Svend Petersen
Toronto Ontario

Svend Petersen / February 26, 2014 at 03:24 pm
I doubt that rick has ever been to China but his bias and bigotry is obvious. As a wise man once said. Not knowing is ignorant. Not wanting to know is stupid.
e-bikes are bullshit replying to a comment from Svend Petersen / February 26, 2014 at 05:21 pm
What happens to the e-bike batteries when they're depleted, eco guy?

What about the plastic bodies when they are damaged? Hmm?
Svend Petersen / February 26, 2014 at 09:52 pm
Mister don't sign your name bullshit. I repeat what I said before, I guess stupid best describes your comment.
Lock / March 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm
Ummm... It may not appear to some that maybe making the Victorian-era pedal bicycle more attractive to MANY, is by adding an electric motor powered by battery? (It's a great way maybe to kill off the 20th-century gasoline/diseasal-powered horseless carriage for personal urban travels.)

Anybuddy here NOT want to KILL THE CAR?
Philip McDunnough / April 6, 2014 at 08:36 pm
I had an e-bike years ago which was essentially a bike with an electric motor assist. It could be used. completely as a bike or powered by the motor. It was not the scooter type and weighed around 50 lbs. Used it to commute to work along the Martin Goodman trail from the Beaches. No one seemed to mind it as it was during the trial phase of e-bikes and. people were curious. The alternative for me was driving as at this point in my life I would never buy an ordinary bike. I also have to point out that I was regularly passed by cyclists who were much faster than my unit which went around 25km/hr. I was going to buy a BionX assisted bike last year but stopped when Toronto banned their use in places that I would use. I doubt I would risk buying one now since traditional cyclists won't quit until they. have the ban back in place.

- I don't understand the opposition to electric assisted bikes. Surely better than cars or motorcycles.
- many people will not use a regular bike but are interested in an e-bike.
- the scooter type "e-bike" does have some serious cons, especially with the weight and momentum issue. However, I do think the pros outweigh the cons. Traditional cyclists will just have to share their space with those and vice versa. Both groups together can push for better paths.
- I do think that. BionX type bikes should be considered as normal bikes with no restrictions ( as the current bylaw seems to be for now)
- the opposition to e-bikes in Toronto has been very strange and has probably given the city a rather "Luddite type" reputation.
- anything that lowers the use of cars in the downtown core should be considered a good thing.

kerry / April 15, 2014 at 09:25 pm
well first of all no one should be talking about anyone else that are doing the same thing when not following the road rules like cars,bikes,e-bikes,pedestrians,trucks,motorcycles,busses,streetcars,trains, yes they all do dangerous things so why are we pin pointed only on one thing everyone combined makes it dangerous so its not all e-bikes an some of us e-bike riders do follow the rules by the way im one of them I get pissed at the cars an the cyclist cuz either I almost get sideswiped by a door at the last min cuz they don't seem to check there rearview mirror for bikes that might be riding by or cyclist that ignore our horn when we want to pass them an they wont let us an we cant go into traffic cuz its usually at a spot like the broadview bridge where its very dangerous an were not allowed to ride e-bikes in car lane cuz that's one of the rules for e-bikes so where the fuck are we suppose to ride then the only place left is the bike lane, so is not riding at full speed on the sidewalk but we are allowed to park them on the sidewalk were not suppose to park them on the road an when we turn were suppose to use the turn lane like the cars, these are the rules us e-bike riders didn't make them, so maybe ppl should do there homework some more instead of bitching...
Keith Richardson / May 22, 2014 at 10:14 am
lol, it's only the riders who cant afford e-bikes that are always complaining
jealous a bit :)
Mary / May 22, 2014 at 06:27 pm
I am a driver but primarily a cyclist- by which I mean someone who uses muscle power to travel on 2 wheels. I am also a senior-I guess fortunately still able bodied.
I am all for allowing the electric bikes that are primarily muscle powered bicycles wherever bicycles are allowed. The moped-like contrivances that are currently posing as "ebikes" (whatever that means) should be licenced and should be allowed to travel at regular traffic speeds with motorized traffic.
If the argument is for folks who are not able to ambulate on their own, they can always get an electric wheelchair if they are that disabled or get a moped that can keep up with traffic. Otherwise they should not be creating safety hazards in bike lanes or on sidewalks. Their argument of sustainability in my view is second to cost and convenience at the expense of the safety and comfortof the majority.
I agree that many cyclists do not obey the traffic rules. I am not opposed to licencing them as well.
It is my observation as the bicycle culture becomes more prevalent, more cyclists are obeying the traffic rules.
We must learn to share the roads, that is true, but when there is such a discrepancy in speed and weight- as with the moped like "ebikes" I don't think they should be allowed in bike lanes. As far as I am concerned they currently do not fit into either the bike or the regular motorized vehicle category. This should be changed.
Ptoud Ebiker / May 24, 2014 at 03:30 pm
I Completely agree and disagree with certain comments made by both sides here. While I myself both drive and E-bike on a daily basis. I more than see and experience the concerns expressed. However let me point out that we can shoot blanks at each other all day long but at the end of it all its not about whether bike,ebikes,cars,trucks,ATVs and Santa's fucking sled are dangerous at times on city roads. Because they all are no matter what bloody lane they're in!! Its not the vehicle its the Driver! Get it in your head and comprehend it. One person can, and has been know to (on multiple accounts) give a bad rep for a whole group of people. To all idiotic ebikers out there I say smarten the hell up. To all bikers that believe they're all invincible. Grow the hell up. And to all drivers whom really reallreally should not have lisences because your to busy rear ending each other to understand the rules of the road. Hell I say, buy a dam ebike and and use it a couple times before you try to run the idea over. #carbonfootprint #getalife #drivers
Adam (driver/ebiker) / June 2, 2014 at 07:44 pm
I've been riding an ebike in Toronto since 2011 and driving a car here since 2012. In that time I've seen a lot of poor behavior from all sides of this debate. People in cars that get very impatient at the idea of getting behind a 32km/hr e-bike (this is especially a problem outside the downtown core), to where they are violent towards you. Generally using there 1 ton automobile as the weapon. I can tell you that motorists pose the greater danger to cyclists and ebikers alike than an ebiker does to a cyclist.

I use my moped-like scooter in bike lanes all the time. The general rule that I have while doing this is that (like on the road) I stay in the bike lane and equal the speed of the cyclist I'm behind until there is enough of a gap in car traffic to safely pass. Essentially the same as crossing a dotted line in a car, only you're not passing into oncoming traffic.

As a motorist, I believe banning scooter style e-bikes from bike lanes is going to cause more harm than good. The slightly wider footprint of an e-bike paired with the narrow space between parked cars is a recipe for disaster. Granted, us e-bikers do do it enough, but usually we're headed towards a street that has bike lanes and/or a back street.

My solution to this problem other than banning e-bikes or simply allowing them:

Increase the speed of ebikes to the maximum speed of the streets they are allowed on. 32km/h in a 50km/h zone creates bad motorist behavior and is dangerous for the e-biker. With this increase in speed, make having a valid (clean) G2 or G level license a requirement. That way we don't get DUI convicts riding these. Also, require a motorcycle helmet instead of the current cycle or motorcycle helmet. At 50km/h there would be no reason for an ebike to be in the bike lane. However, the issue may continue. In which case, there would need to be more police enforcement.

Clearly e-bikes are here to stay. There will be some growing pains as they are fully integrated into the mix on Toronto roads, but I think some sort of consensus that keeps everyone safe and happy is on its way.

Kendel / June 7, 2014 at 11:51 am
E-bikes should be classified as a vehicle. End of story. Now all we've got are vehicles 2
Times the width, weight, and speed haphazardly winding in and out of traffic via bike lanes. As a cyclist I fucking hate this. They're dangerous and owned by fuckwits. That's my scientific opinion.
Binkers / June 14, 2014 at 11:21 am
I've been commuting to work on a bicycle 2-3 times a week from Etobicoke to East York for the past 4 years, and I've never had any problems with ebikers. As a pedestrian, I have issues with them being ridden on sidewalks, but I also have issues with bicycles being ridden on sidewalks.
T.J. replying to a comment from Ken Sintgon / June 22, 2014 at 01:05 am
What do you mean background check on people who use ebikes. That is very polarizing. You are very opinionated and perhaps somewhat self righteous. Before ebikes were popularized people with DUI charges (as you say) rode bicycles. Yep Bicycles just like you, but yet you seem to be so bereft about these low life ebikers intruding on your space. They are just people. I am a normal working person, I don't ride an ebike but my girlfriend does, she works hard, she doesn't even drink; I know being a drunk a per-requesite for riding these things but I quess she is an exception. She is just a girl who can't handle biking to work up-hill everyday at 5:30 in the morning. So you want to know who rides ebikes? normal people just like the people who ride regular bikes. If you had actual numbers my friend, which you will never have, I think you would find that many more reckless people and people with DUI's ride your precious bicycles.

I just want to stand up against people with who treat with views akin to segregation.

mike / June 22, 2014 at 07:38 pm
I've been living in china for the better part of ten years. Had ebikes the whole time. Back in TO, and after spending 90+ mins on delayed TTC everyday i decided to look into getting an ebike again. I can't believe these whiny Toronto cyclists crying foul over ebikes. Sickening really. I came from shanghai (23 million people, 15 million of whom were situated in an area the size Scarborough), where riding in a fence lined bike lane less wide than a TO sidewalk was normal. And by normal i mean 50cc gas scooters, ebikes, and cyclists in the same bike lane. no one complained, no one whined, nobody took elitist attitudes, everybody got along!

I seriously can't begin to imagine what's the problem with ebikes.
- i can drive, have a SUV, but spending time in traffic, paying for parking downtown is a deal breaker.
- riding a bike for 25km in the summer...yay sweaty armpits! no thanks!!
- eBike. Perfect for spring, summer and fall.

Whats the problem?

stop ur complaining and step up to third world attitudes!

T.J. replying to a comment from mike / June 24, 2014 at 01:54 am

Thank you. Some people are very close minded and so wrapped up in there own selves that they don't take the time to think things out clearly.

I am severely dissapointed with what cyclists have become.

I drive down the road. Past cyclists, e-bikers, motorcyclists, electric cars, hybrids and pedestrians on foot. Without even batting an eye.

Cyclists now drive down the road. Get angry at polluting cars, angry at other cyclists not going fast enough or not looking the part, angry at motorcyclists for being lazy and not riding a bike, angry at cars for thinking they own the road, angry at pedestrians on foot for being in there bike lanes, and now angry at e-bikers? What has riding a bicycle become?
Myles / June 24, 2014 at 05:49 pm
I keep seeing all this crap about how quiet and fast e-bikes are and how badly people drive them. You should all give yer head a good shake.

I drive an e-bike and I can't tell you how many times I've been riding my e-bike on the road and have a herd of idiots on regular bikes whip past me swerving all over the place, riding 2 or 3 abreast, running red lights and blowing past streetcars. Oddly enough I never hear those regular bikes coming up behind me which, judging by all these posts, MUST be much louder than an e-bike. My e-bike makes a constant hum as it moves. Pretty easy for any aware rider to hear coming. MUCH louder than a well tuned bicycle does. I can ALWAYS hear another e-bike approaching from behind.

As for where they travel, it's a VERY rare street that has a speed limit of less than 40 k.p.h. Unposted streets are considered as a 50 k.p.h. zone. How does making an e-bike that usually can't even make it to the lowest posted speed limit, drive in regular 50 k.p.h. traffic not a hazard to every car on the road???

If e-bikes are too dangerous for bike lanes then it follows that pedal bikes are too dangerous to be allowed on ANY street used by motorized vehicles.

Since that's not gonna happen, why don't you sniveling little whiners think before you post more thoughtless knee jerk reactions?
Myles replying to a comment from Kendel / June 24, 2014 at 06:05 pm
Have you even bothered to measure a bicycle and an electric bike? Both are almost the exact same size in most cases.
And if you compare how many pedal bikes ignore and abuse the rules of the road as compared to most e-bikers you're going to be unpleasantly surprised. As for the speed crap, are you trying to say that a pedal bike isn't faster than an e-bike?
I think you're 'science' is a tad faulty there genius...
T.J. / June 25, 2014 at 01:28 am
Cyclists are being shown the door right now. For good reason.

Ride a bike. That's all. Ride a bike, don't show negativity towards every other means of transportation used by all kinds of people from all walks of life. Just ride your bike, just like some people drive there car, take the bus, or walk, or god-forbid ride an electric scooter.

Drivercyclist replying to a comment from Ken Sintgon / July 20, 2014 at 07:45 pm
Except lots of people do dangerous things regardless of the vehicle they're driving.

What about the Lance Armstrong wannabe's that are too pro to follow traffic laws?

What about the psycho downtown couriers?

What about the hothead 19 year old males in bmw's? They have driver's licenses and they're way more dangerous than the bike.

You obviously have a complex over them and you came here to rage so try making like the rest of the people here and just not be such an angry bitch.
blupheonix / July 23, 2014 at 01:01 pm
You are all idiots! Like I didn't see 5 cars run red lights and half second stops at stop signs in the last 2 days. Loser e bikers? How about loser drivers who don't signal?
shane / August 5, 2014 at 10:24 pm
Ihave severe,advanced osteoarthritis.Ihave an E-bike,Ifollow all the rules of the road.This bike has changed my life,Ican get around my own shopping,go to places I can get to several places in one day.Before I got the bike Icould hardly walk more than 4 or 5 blocks.Iam respectful of other bikers and I stick to the right and wave them past when Isee them approaching,in my rear view mirror.The far majority of cyclists don't have a problem at all with me.It is just a matter of applying safe,respectful attitudes,some good manners don't hurt either.
Gerald Kearney / August 11, 2014 at 08:37 am
A shop down my street sells scooter type ebikes. They sell a shipping container every week. They are selling like hot cakes. They are not going away.

I drive my scooter type ebike down the Martin Goodman trail all the time. I get flack from ignorant cyclist. I even had a late night altercation with one. (Just because I am over 50, have a gimp leg and grey hair, biking bullies seem to think I am an easy target - I am ex-military unarmed combat instructor - not a good idea to try to hang a beating on me - you will lose.)

I am looking forward to getting a ticket from the police. I will argue in court that the disabled have a right to use the trail the same as cyclist. I will win.
Fantasm / August 12, 2014 at 01:43 pm
I ride an ebike. It has turn signals, a horn, Brake lights, A hi/lo headlight beam and a horn. I have a decent helmet(not a bicycle one). I ride according to the rules of the road. I allow cars to get past me and try to avoid inconveniencing other drivers.
While riding it, I've had car and truck drivers deliberately try to squeeze me off the road usually while laughing and yelling abuse etc. That's why I'm installing a dash cam on it.
Don't these people realise they can be charged with "Dangerous Driving" and or possibly injure or kill the cyclist?
I've also had regular cyclists yell abuse.
Seems to me I'm the safest person out there some days. At least I'm not a threat to others.
Then too, at least I'm not polluting the streets with emissions etc...
There's far too much wrong with society when people want to regulate "others".
milieuvriendelijk fietsen / August 22, 2014 at 05:45 am
I doubt that rick has ever been to China but his bias and bigotry is obvious. As a wise man once said. Not knowing is ignorant. Not wanting to know is stupid.
Devin / August 27, 2014 at 04:23 am
I've been a licensed driver for 16 years. I currently don't have a car in order to save money and because I don't need one and I am desperately waiting for electric cars to go down in price because I have been sick of gas cars for years and the future can't come fast enough. Right now my only choices are biking and electric biking. I use my regular bike regularly, but for long commutes and going uphill, the ebike is much better. I have the scooter kind because electric bicycles are not very developed yet and very expensive. I use the scooter anywhere a car is allowed and also anywhere a bike is allowed. I have never had problems. I ride more responsibly than 99% of all drivers and bike users. I didn't realize until I got the electric scooter 3 years ago how much people hate these things, but for no real reason. I guess people just always hate new things they don't understand and change. The only accident I have ever gotten in with the electric scooter is swerving off the bike path to avoid a reckless bike user who was completely at fault, and admitted as much. I scraped myself up pretty bad and damaged the scooter. I constantly have people yelling at me from cars and bikes and on foot, for no reason, just because they don't like the e-bikes. I don't get it.

1. The weight argument is stupid, 75% of the weight of any bike is the rider. With e-bikes it might be 80%. A big guy on a regular bike will weigh just as much.
2. The speed argument also fails, regular bikers often pass me while I'm at top speed, and for some reason regular bikers often try to catch up to me (maybe to prove they are as fast without a motor?). If they are reasonably athletic, regular bikers, especially road bikers, easily go 32km/h or faster.
3. The dimensions aren't any bigger than a regular bike, get out a measuring tape. The shape is just different.

There are also electric bikes that are just like regular bikes but have a motor and battery. I want to get one but good ones are expensive so I am saving up. Please someone give a good argument (haven't heard one yet) for why someone going typical bike speeds and obeying the laws shouldn't be allowed on bike lanes and paths? The primary reason for bike lanes and paths is to separate slower moving vehicles from car traffic. That is it. Electric bikes are slower moving vehicles. They cannot keep up with car traffic and should be able to use bike lanes just as much regular bikes. It's that simple. Cars, bikes, and pedestrians, you better get used to it, because small electric vehicles are here to stay, and they are going to become the primary mode of inner-city transportation within 20 years. The technology is getting better and better. a Vancouver company now makes one that can hit top speeds of 90km/h with a range of 300km. That of course would require a licence and insurance to go those speeds and rightfully should, but it just gives you an idea of where this is going. People will be driving street legal electric bikes capable of switching modes with the flip of a switch between bike speed (32km/h top speed) and car speed. Such bikes already exist (although rare) and are fully legal on all roadways including bike lanes and paths. It isn't about the vehicle, it is about the user. Bad drivers kill people and bad electric bike users probably will too. We shouldn't be focusing on the vehicles, but rather on the drivers and law enforcement.
EBike Rider / September 9, 2014 at 11:17 am
Being an Ebike rider, I have used the bike lanes. When passing, I go into the vehicle lane when safe to do so. While waiting, I stay back a safe distance from the cyclist.

When there are no lanes, I pass wide, and quick little toot of the horn. I stop at lights, for streetcars, and crosswalks....while cyclists on same route DO NOT!!

I have cars whiz by within a couple of inches .

Ebikes and bicycles are entitled to the whole lane!

Mathieu / October 1, 2014 at 07:49 am
How does this article fit with the City of Toronto's web page on cycling in the city?

I am getting mixed messages. I am confused! Based on their websites, e-bike are not allowed on bike paths.;vgnextchannel=f4d4970aa08c1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Elan / October 6, 2014 at 01:27 pm
Motorized, lol! This isn't your Japanese or European e-bike!
e-bikes in Ontario are limited to 32kph, they cannot safely keep up with regular traffic in school zones let alone regular traffic. It makes all the sense in the world to let them use bike lanes!
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