E-bikes reveal the problems with bike paths and training

On The Path

(Photo: flickr user lexenger)

The pilot period for e-bikes is nearing its end in Ontario. The province has luckily decided to allow e-bikes on our roads. If they get people out of much larger, polluting automobiles we all win.

E-bikes, however, have been clouded in controversy. Much of the controversy between cyclists and e-bikers has been about where the province and city should allow e-bikes: namely, should e-bikes be allowed everywhere bikes are allowed?

I believe I have an insight: the key problem is not so much e-bikes in and of themselves, but our infrastructure and education for cycling. Both are inadequate for the needs of cyclists let alone e-bikers. There is little chance of conflict with e-bikes in bike lanes, but on multi-use paths both cyclists and e-bikers need to drastically limit their speed and manoeuvre around mobs of pedestrians and dogs. Conflicts on the road and paths can be reduced with at least a minimum level of training in effective, safe and courteous cycling. Then it would matter much less if you happen to be pedalling or propelling yourself with an electric motor. The government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that not only is it okay that cyclists get no commuter cycling training before they graduate from high school but that e-bikers don't as well.

The bike union recently held a survey on the larger e-bikes, and even though a majority of the participants felt that they were indeed motor vehicles and not bicycles, when asked if they felt they should be allowed in bike lanes the results were more evenly split. The answers swung strongly back to "no" when the participants were asked if they should be allowed on multi-use paths.

This is quite revealing. Cyclists have much less of a problem with e-bikers in bike lanes than on multi-use paths. There is one main difference: pedestrians. Multi-use paths, particularly in Toronto, are often packed full of slow-moving, meandering children, dogs on leashes, seniors looking at plants, gaggles of teens or adults. They are often not particularly good thoroughfares for cyclists, let alone e-bikers.

So instead of deciding if e-bikes should be allowed on multi-use paths as cyclists are, we need better paths with no pedestrians around, which works much better for e-bikers and cyclists. The worry for both is that they're more likely to run into a pedestrian rather than get into conflict with each other.

The same goes for education. Many cyclists worry about e-bikers overtaking them by riding too close and without warning or noise. But then, many seasoned cyclists also worry about other cyclists doing the same. E-bikes have interested new people, people who are not familiar with the obligations of cyclists. Most people get the majority of their cycling education from their parents or police rodeos where they are often taught the very basics: stop at intersections, wear a helmet. Not many will willingly fork over $60+ to take a CAN-BIKE course. E-bikers are at an even bigger disadvantage since there are no e-bike specific courses out there, as far as I know.

It may comfort a lot of cyclists that a lot of thought went into the original 2001 drafting of the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations on power-assist bicycles. It was not arbitrary. In their current form they allow both the pedal-assist and the moped-looking e-bikes with throttles. They were well aware that these larger bikes would not, for the most part, be pedaled. They considered that there was little difference in safety between pedal-assist and throttle-controls. But the speed of both was limited to simulate the average top speed of cycilsts. And since the power output is limited to 500 Watts this also effectively limits the weight of the machine, since a heavier machine would require more power to get going.

Should e-bikes be allowed on our multi-use paths, given their current configuration? I'm still hesitant. The province and city should think hard about that in the context of a large need for a comprehensive bike network and cycling commuter training that starts in our schools.

Comments

Multi-use trails are a real challenge, aside from day-dreaming people, ipod joggers, kids/dogs darting all-over the fact is most people really aren't paying attention or even trying. As an aside, I find this quite common when I get out to MTB. People really like nature, usually, so much so that they get very distracted "smelling the roses" and they end up virtually acting like zombies or your avg ambien user. I don't know... for sure those types really don't like having to interact with other people on their walks(especially a mountain biker who destroys nature, excuse my sarcasm). I think a similar response occurs on multi-use trails.

I digress thou.

I can defiantly say this eScooter thing has no place weaving among children and dogs. After learning that some eScooter style e-bikes are designed to propel, full-loaded, a total vehicle weight of 550lbs the risks of injury in a collision are for sure higher(when compared to a 30lb bicycle). Seeing how some cyclists handle the multi-use pathway scenario i cringe when i think of 170lb+ metal eScooters on it. I cringe because, for sure they won't drive differently than the majority of cyclists. Would lessons fix that as you're saying, i doubt it, because usually the pedestrian or dog is the one doing something random and unpredictable - not the cyclist as we're so often told.

The province by allowing eScooters and such is encouraging turning the multi-use trails into bike/e-bike only highways; since many pedestrians will be intimidated off the trails by these motorcycle like things "zooming" by their kids and dogs honking at them with an pseudo car-horn. That horn alone seems to go against the ethos of a multi-use trail.

My two cents.

I think you missed on of my main points: city needs separate paths for cyclists and e-bikers with no pedestrians.

Since that is unlikely to happen soon (though you see some efforts along the waterfront), the three users may get along better with proper training. But that also is unlikely to happen soon. Education is expensive, and the proponents for cyclist licenses (like Councillor Walker) never bother to propose that any training take place. Society needs to see it as important that most people need to know how to commute by bike. Without this emphasis we're still going to end up with idiots on bikes and e-bikers.

Given that, the heavier e-bikes will raise the stakes on the multi-use trails.

I believe you're implementing a rhetorical flourish by comparing the combined weight of an e-scooter and rider with a bicycle with no rider. To be fair you should compare the two combined weights: ~340 pounds (170 pound e-bike + 170 pound rider) to ~ 200 pounds (30 pound bike + 170 pound rider). That difference is not too extreme.

Perhaps you'd see e-bikers carrying heavy loads which could tip the scales at 550 pounds, but given the maximum power output I wonder just how fast they could go. The same could be said for bikes: the long john cargo bike is legal on multi-use paths and a cyclist could just carry 200 pounds on the front so long as the path is relatively flat. One would be foolhardy to take the onto the waterfront when it's full of pedestrians.

Thus my point. There should be a highways and by-ways for cyclists and e-bikes where they need not worry about stray children and dogs, nor concern themselves with flower sniffers deciding to walk against traffic.

Yes, I agree that separate paths would be better for both cyclists and non. Commuting on a multi-use trail is very slow, especially on a sunny afternoon. I'm sure pedestrians don't like people on bikes trying to get around them on their sunny afternoon walk either.

Having said that another path is required, what would be the main difference between this proposed path and those physically-segregated(i.e. a curb or grassy central reservation) style bike-lanes? Maybe we should just be asking for those instead?

Perhaps I'm straying into rhetorical arguments here regarding the "550lb e-bikes", but i'm not going to agree with you that 170 pounds of e-bike + 170 pounds of rider is the same as a 30 pound bike and 170 pound rider. Yes 340lb is in the same class as 200lbs but, my reservation is that the 340lbs are made up of a totally different material than the 200lbs. Maybe it's my poor explanations, but a collision with 170lbs of metal is nowhere near the same as a collision with 170lbs of late night take-out and beers...

Aside from this I think we're in agreement that, multi-use trails aren't the ideal way for cyclists to commute through a city and that this issue with eScooters is bringing to light other issues with our cycling infrastructure.

I am riding my bike down a busy Toronto two lane street. An e-bike is swerving back and forth, trying to squeeze in between the two cars in the lanes, then back over into the unofficial bike lane between the row of parked cars and the traffic stream.

me: You've got to decide if you're a vehicle or a bike!

e-biker: Bikes are vehicles. You don't know much about the law!

Ok. I meant to say "car", not "vehicle." I wanted you to stop changing lanes in front of me, or at the very least, stop ringing your electric horn when a car doesn't let you scoot up between the two lanes of traffic. I did not want to engage you in a discussion of road rules and regulations and classifications and unwritten vs. written law/ spirit of vs letter of the law. I just wanted to be able to predict your behaviour.

In general, I don't mind e-bikes. I do mind having their riders sitting 2 feet off my butt in traffic. This has happened several times now and I can't figure out what is going on. Their riders (drivers?) seem to be afraid to get out their with the cars, don't want to pass me, but follow real close. I don't get it.

holdsworth

Correct me if I am wrong but aren't conventional bicycles allowed (and often seen) doing exactly what you describe: They are seen weaving in and out of lanes, between moving cars and are allowed to be in whichever lane the rider wants to be in.

Bicycles are "vehicles" too, and entitled to drive in any lane.

Any cyclist, regardless of ebike or not, is going to end up getting squished driving like that.

I agree with the premise of the post: cyclists of all sorts routinely ignore the laws of the road.

**** Lets say scooter style require licencing and insurance. I am coasting along at 25 km per hour with a helmet on and my 22 year old daughter shoots by me on her 10 speed doing 40 km per hour without a helmet and no licence and no insurance required and nobody on this thread sees the insanity. Every other provinces sees this as insane across Canada and across the US, not to mention millions upon millions overseas. But Ontario cyclists thinks they are dangerous. You guys should wear helmets. LOL

You are so correct, Herb, no bicycles of any kind should be on pedestrian paths. The pedestrians and doggies are totally zoned out and not at all on the lookout for anything on wheels coming up from behind.

Multi-use paths, for people on foot and otherwise, is soooo 20th century thinking.

Electric is also correct in saying bicycles loaded with takeout and beers dangling from the handlebars is not right. I saw a guy on Dundas the other night mostly using both hands to balance the case of beer on the handlebars... ummm... how are your going to brake buddy?

And what if there were speed limits on multi-use paths? Can you just hear the howling among us bikers if bicycle cops started aiming radar guns? And what about enforcement? Haha, like so many other things in this country, we can't/won't enforce the laws we already have so we pass new ones that make it unnecessary to enforce the ones we didn't.

PS if you ever see an ebike that can do more that 15 km/h with a cargo load let me know. I took BF for a "ride-double" the other night (totally illegal, BTW) and going down a slope on Palmerston we hit the incredible 15 km/h. What would great grandaddy think of that incredible velocity! lol

Bang on Herb,

it often baffles me...
we send our children for swimming lessons,
we go to ski hills and take ski / snowboard lessons
in the most ethnic of neigbourhoods, we see ads taped to the TTC shelters advertising driving lessons

City of Toronto Parks Forestry & Recreation offer a gamut...
Tennis lessons, figure skating lessons, lacrosse lessons, even fencing lessons...

but who takes bike lessons!?

infact, even my local big box gym offers "Spinning lessons"
but they aren't interested in offering cycling lessons.

forget licensing, fancy infrastructure, or special needs allowances...
we need basic, elementary education before highschool.
starting with "bike are vehicles", and ending with "ride responsibly".

I'm not in favour of mandatory lessons for bike riding, let's stop creating barriers and start encouraging people to pedal.

As for multi-purpose paths, let's allow pedestrians to keep having the right-of-way. Cyclists need to respect that pedestrians are allowed to wander aimlessly or stop and chat. There isn't a rule that they must keep to the right.

I don't know why e-bikes are mentioned separately, I see them as having the same rights and responsibilities as regular bikes. Both need to slow down and respect pedestrians.

I never said mandatory lessons. That would be akin to licensing, which I think is pointless. I said that governments must consider a comprehensive cycling infrastructure and education program. When you add e-bikes to the equation you start to fray the edges of the fabric. While cyclists and pedestrians have an uneasy relationship on the multi-use paths, the e-bikers will exasperate it. Conflicts will happen.

That is why I proposed: 1) that cycling/e-bike traffice be separate from pedestrian traffic as much as possible. The city should treat cycling as a form of transportation that needs some separation both from cars (where they go fast) and from pedestrians (because they go too slow).
2) that much more cycling education take place. Politicians need to put the money into education not just spout off about cyclists doing dumb things or licensing them. I think a very good case could be made for offering schoolchildren and teens cycling classes in school, particularly if they live in Toronto. School courses may be mandatory for these age groups (is that such a bad thing?) but it doesn't mean that everyone on the road will have needed to take it.

Far from creating a barrier, cycling education in school will open up a new world for a lot more kids. For all the kids who are timid or have never really considered biking to school, the lessons are eye-openers.

As for adults, I believe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to require an on-road cycling component to driver's lessons (if the participant is able). It might never happen but I'd find it very interesting to see how people might change their driving behaviour at the very least and become cyclists at the most.

The infrastructure and education go hand in hand. That's what has happened in The Netherlands and Denmark - virtually everyone gets educated. So should we.

I thought that e-bikes were the motivation for the police in Calgary to enforce the 20km/h speed limit on their MUPs. Toronto's MUPs are also limited to 20km. Commuters, and those on training rides, will usually go faster than that. My own 6 and 8 year old daughters can travel faster than 20km/h. I know I go much faster than 20km/h when the trails aren't busy, and still I'm often passed. But usually the commuters ride it when there are few pedestrians to intefere with. However, I don't want to get speeding tickets meant for the police's hate-on for e-bikers.

That said, I was riding on one MUP today where the path is "twinned," ie one path for cyclists and roller bladers, the other path for pedestrians. The pedestrians were not only in the higher speed path, but walking three and four wide - elbow to elbow - or else completly stopped in the middle of the path talking as cyclists and rollor bladers wizzed by them, often with bells ringing!! Which simply shows how broken our current pedestrian culture is.

If we want MUPs that work then they have to become enforced pedestrian-free areas.

Not only should we have cycling lessons, but it seems that widespread walking lessons are also in order.

I saw a guy on Dundas the other night mostly using both hands to balance the case of beer on the handlebars... ummm... how are your going to brake buddy?

That might have been me. If so, I would have braked using my coaster brake. I also stick to back streets when biking with a case of beer, and keep the velocity pretty low.

And what if there were speed limits on multi-use paths?

It's generally 20 km/h, and no one adheres to it.

The other day I was riding on Bike Route 2 when Wrong-Way Willy came around the corner from a side street a bit ahead of me, wrong side of the road, gliding smoothly through the stop sign. At the same time, an elderly man on a bike off to the left side of the road did a leisurely U-turn across the roadway, winding up riding parallel with Wrong-Way Willy, both heading straight towards me.

Well, this wasn't Charybdis and Scylla, and I got past them okay.

But, riding home later that night, I thought: you know, I'm one of the quicker riders out there. On my road bike, I can run a bit over 30km/h on the flat with no wind. Now, on my heavier utility bike, I'm a bit slower.

But I know what I'm doing, more or less, having cycled and driven a car since the 1970s.

Now, as e-bikes get cheaper, and come on the used markets, the crappy riders (DUI folks, those who can't keep a driver's licence, the ADD-FAS youth who rides furiously on the sidewalk, weaving from side to side as driven by internal demons), well they can get a second-hand e-bike.

And as e-bike proponents like to day, battery technology is coming right along. I bet soon e-bikes will be able to make 32km/h consistently. And that's not a cheery prospect.

The case for better cycling infrastructure may be improved with the addition of e-bikes, and introducing a new mode of transportation offers commuters more options which is also good.

I think my perspective on e-bikes is rather moderate – they are fine on the streets and in bike lanes, but not on all of our recreational paths.

Crowded bike lanes are not a current problem, but I would be delighted in they were. I see each e-bike as one less car, not one less bike – so the shift away from cars means there would be reason to re-allocate more of our streets to bikes of all kinds.

I was in Vancouver in May and the trails along False Creek are twinned; separate bike paths for pedestrians and cyclists. And if I remember correctly there was a sign something like this on the bike path: "WARNING: Bicycle Path. No Pedestrians" and it mostly seemed to be working. Each kept to his/her own path.

Ed, you saw two parallel bicycles blithely heading straight towards you traveling on the wrong side of the road... and you're saying that if you had an e-bike that YOU would have been the problem in that equation?

Surely the problem is asinine riders who ride on the wrong side of the road and ignore stop signs? How did e-bikes come into the situation?

I think that's Herb's point here is: far too many current bike riders ignore (or are ignorant of) the rules of the road. E-bikes may be bringing new people onto the road who would not otherwise be there, having discounted the idea of riding a conventional bicycle, and therefore this influx may bring a few new ignorant people to the roadways.

So we should be thinking about ways to deal with ignorant riders such as Wrong-Way Willy or your "DUI folks, those who can't keep a driver's licence, the ADD-FAS youth who rides furiously on the sidewalk, weaving from side to side as driven by internal demons."

These bike riders already exist and are already on conventional bicycles on our roads and sidewalks. Let's get rid of them, not the bikes they ride.

And frankly, there's a popular misconception about DUI and e-bikes. Only people who have lost their license under provincial statues (such as not paying parking tickets or child support) are allowed to ride e-bikes.

Drunks who are convicted of .08 DUI or whatever it's called are not allowed to ride an e-bike, they are only allowed to ride conventional bicycles!

Anthony wrote:
"I don't want to get speeding tickets meant for the police's hate-on for e-bikers."

Kevin's comment:
Has there ever been any enforcement of the 20 km/hr Toronto Parks speed limit?

I've never heard of any. Very few bikes have a bike speedometer.

Herb... to your original blog entry... well said!

I will only question your point that "Multi-use paths, particularly in Toronto, are often packed full of slow-moving, meandering children, dogs on...(etc)"...

In fact if you look at the whole 24hrs of each day, and all seasons, Toronto paths are almost empty most of the time. For most ppl, there are popular times and days that they see the paths, and because they are there at these popular times their experience is that the paths are busy.

Folks just need to adjust their riding style (slow down!) whether pedaling or motoring (ebike of any design) when there is other "traffic" around on foot or on wheels or any visual obstructions ahead.
tks

"I bet soon e-bikes will be able to make 32km/h consistently."

Most ebikes that are converted from pedal bikes can make speeds higher than this. Any pedal bike can make speeds more than this down hills. Regulate behaviour. Not technology. Odd that most cars are designed to exceed the speed limits, and ppl don't seem to have a problem with that? (I do, but most don't it seems...)
tks

Sorry, time pressures on a library computer means that sometimes subtlety is lost.

"Ed, you saw two parallel bicycles blithely heading straight towards you traveling on the wrong side of the road... and you're saying that if you had an e-bike that YOU would have been the problem in that equation?"

No....my problem would have been if those two riders were on e-bikes. There are riders too incompentent and stupid (in my opinion) to be on any sort of bicycle on any sort of road. Yet they can be, because you don't need any official permission, like a licence, to ride a bicycle. And I'm okay with that, even if it means that apparently some of these people figure "hell, I don't need a licence to ride a bicycle, so I don't need to follow any of the rules either!" (If they "figure" at all.)

But they're dangerous anyway. Put them on an e-bike that is much heavier than a bicycle, and capable of much higher speeds than a lot of these people could accomplish on their own (we're not talking lycra-clad club riders here) and the situation that I encountered could have been a lot more dangerous.

"These bike riders already exist and are already on conventional bicycles on our roads and sidewalks. Let's get rid of them, not the bikes they ride."

That would be nice, but how do you propose to do that? My observation boils down to two points:
1) Dangerous riders exist right now
2) A dangerous rider on an e-bike at 32km/h is way more dangerous than on some clapped-out Peugot 10-speed at 15km/h

We could get rid of dangerous riders, or we can leave them as is (mostly they're a nuisance rather than an active danger), but keep them off e-bikes. It seems to me that somewhere, licencing and enforcement will be required.

As for: "Drunks who are convicted of .08 DUI or whatever it's called are not allowed to ride an e-bike, they are only allowed to ride conventional bicycles!"

I don't see that in the FAQ at
http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/vehicle/emerging/e-...

In fact:
24. If my driver's licence has been suspended, can I legally operate an e-bike?
You do not need a driver's licence to drive an electric bicycle.

And also:
17. If a police officer stopped someone who is drunk while driving an e-bike, how would they be charged? Would this be a Criminal Code offence? HTA offence?
Drinking and driving a motor vehicle is a Criminal Code offence and charges are laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. Under the Criminal Code, the definition of a "motor vehicle" would include an e-bike and anyone operating an e-bike intoxicated could be charged for impaired driving. If convicted, the offender would be subject to the Criminal Code penalties, including a fine or jail time, and a driving prohibition. However, under this pilot regulation, an e-bike would not be a motor vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act, so penalties for impaired driving under the Act would not apply.

(So you get charged under the Criminal Code, but not the specific section of the HTA.)

bang on ... "The infrastructure and education go hand in hand. That's what has happened in The Netherlands and Denmark - virtually everyone gets educated. So should we."

I agree; we need to follow the lead that the Netherlands and Denmark have taken.
What we would end up is educated cyclist/ebike riders that know the rules of the road and abide by them and hopefully greater respect from car/vehicle drivers.

Having said that, I believe that there should be stricter fines on cyclist/ebike riders who choose to ignore or not to abide by the laws of the road.

MarkW - you miss the point. The two go hand in hand. That means that we're not going to get much compliance if the infrastructure and the laws continue to ignore the realities of cyclists. The multi-use paths are often no real alternative to the roads. Many of our roads have no room for cylists and drivers behave as if cyclists are a nuisance. The bike lanes don't connect. Smart cyclists will often have to take strategies that enhance their safety but are strictly against the HTA.

And yet you still put all back to enforcement, which I am categorically saying is not going to make any big difference in the safety of cyclists.

A case in point: I live in the west end, but have to contend with unfriendly Dundas with car squeezing me into the car zone; or I pick my way through back streets that don't connect and would make me go in circles if I didn't break the law by going the wrong way down one-way streets. And you want to raise the fines on this kind of behaviour? That's just close-minded.

That's no way to take cycling seriously.

What I'm saying is that we'll know when the government takes cycling seriously because it will shut up about enforcement and start talking about comprehensive infrastructure changes for cyclists and cycling education for ALL, including all drivers with two working legs.

That the Toronto Police (and/or city by-law officers) haven't done any speed enforcement on the city's paths doesn't man that they can't, or they won't.

My "warning" is to say that it's happenned (and is happening) elsewhere in Canada, so it could come here, too. All that needs to happen is for some of the same political will which has prevented us from getting any bike lanes to be applied in the of enforcement for this take place here.

Anthony wrote:
"I don't want to get speeding tickets meant for the police's hate-on for e-bikers."

One of my first customers was a police officers wife who was with her husband when she purchased the bike. Since that time I have sold many to officers or their families. I don't find at all that police have a "hate on" for ebikers any more than they have a "hate on" for cyclists. The police who patrol in my area slow down and nod at me as they are going by, and a couple of times shout out "slow down" as they are driving pass, with a smile on their face. People who spend even a moment being "bothered" by someones personal choice I find generally either need therapy or a mate. Perhaps even a hobby would help.

"I bet soon e-bikes will be able to make 32km/h consistently."

And why would this be bad? If I am cycling downtown I can maintain a faster average than that on my bicycle.
Going back home is another story. Is it okay to be able to average 32 km/h one way only? I wished my commute was downhill both ways. Leave the e-bikers alone, and pick on the politicians instead.

most cars are designed to exceed the speed limits, and ppl don't seem to have a problem with that?

Good Point. With all the street racing and reckless drivers on the road, time would be better spent addressing this issue. Can't think of any accidents in 2.5 years involving an e-biker and a cyclist. Don't remember any "slow speed" police chases either.

"most cars are designed to exceed the speed limits, and ppl don't seem to have a problem with that?"

Of course, if the police catch you speeding, then the first thing they ask you for is your licence.

I think most people would have problems with letting car drivers drive unlicenced.

Most people here seem to have problems in requiring bicyclists to have a licence.

At some point in the weight/speed spectrum, a licence comes in (motorcycles, scooters).

Getting on your souped-up e-bike and going 50km/h will just mean that licencing will be required for e-bikes sooner rather than later.

"Getting on your souped-up e-bike and going 50km/h will just mean that licencing will be required for e-bikes sooner rather than later"

And that is why there is police. Why punish all cyclists because of a few lunatics. To licence a bike that maxes out at 32 km per hour, when a cyclist can pass you doing 35 km per hour and without a helmet is ludicrous. Should we then extend to all cyclists that exceed that speed the same licence.
We grew up with mopeds that did 45 km per hour without a licence. It wasn't until recently that Ontario started questioning this generations ability to use common sense. I rode a bicycle for 40 years and now I choose not to pedal. It does seem odd that this "problem" is unique only to Ontario. A few bloggers opionions really do not matter.

We have had ebikes on our roads in Victoria BC for about 5 years now and there is no problem with them . Whats up with you guys in Toronto? Great option for people who would normally drive. I really think some people just like to complain about anything. I ride a regular bike and I see e-bikes all over. What;s the big deal. It only seems to be a problem with Toronto. Funny huh?

Hey Victoria, B.C.
Are you seriously equating streets in Victoria with downtown Toronto? Have you seen the bike lanes here during rush hour. Personally, I have no problem with e-bikes, but then I haven't had any negative encounters with them,or many encounters at all. There has been a debate concerning where, in the stream of traffic, do they belong. There is a grey area in the HTA that doesn't define where the various forms of wheeled transportation can travel. From time to time they all end up in the bike lane; skateboards, inline skates, traditional push scooters, mobility scooters and now motorized bikes, not to mention numerous parked cars. I think e-bikes are capable of faster acceleration and can maintain a higher average speed than bikes, which suggests they would be better suited to the normal traffic lanes. Most roads don't have bike lanes so normally we're all in the right lane anyway. There is also a serious lack of traffic enforcement here which pretty much makes it "anything goes". Factor in the more aggressive driving style in Toronto and there is no limit to the conflicts that arise.

I think the point is that Downtown Toronto Congestion is not a good reason to wish a ban on e-bikes across Ontario. I live and ride in Toronto, but in the Don Mills and York Mills area where there is absolutely zero congestion. Most would agree that Downtown is a problem. More paths and better paths are desperately needed. E-bikes though are not the problem, they in fact are a partial solution to the problem. If someone is riding an e-bike instead of a car that means one less car to add to the "congestion". I ride mine 6 - 7 months out of the year, instead of my Clubwagon. I ride it back and forth to work, to the store and for all my errands. Take 5000 cars off the road and replace it with 5000 e-bikes and that is a good thing.

"If someone is riding an e-bike instead of a car" - fine, but what if they're riding an e-bike instead of a bike?

These things are increasingly being sold in bike shops, not in car shops, and users are demanding the right to drive them in bike lanes.

I have absolutely no problem with e-bikes as a solution to the "car problem" but I'm worried they are being marketed as a solution to a non-existent "bike problem."

Your self-description seems like a case in point. 6-7 months of the year most people can commute to work, to the store and run errands by bicycle. Unless you have some kind of physical disability which prevents you from cycling, I wonder if your e-bike is replacing your car or your bicycle.

Taking 5000 bicycles off the road and replacing them with 5000 e-bikes IS a problem, both for congestion and for the environment.

So to sum up, I'm not wholly opposed to e-bikes and I don't think anyone here is, but the way in which they are marketed and ridden is of legitimate concern to us. ****

It is no concern of mine whether people are riding a bike instead of walking, so why it is a concern to anyone else what anyone is doing? Have you ever taken the escalator instead of the stairs, or the elevator? Does it make someone lazy if they choose not to pedal? Some people belong to health clubs for excercise, and do not rely on their 20 minute trip to work as their workout. I don't know if you own a car or not, but is it any of my business or anyone elses business where you draw the line to drive or bike. Isn't that your business? Why not live and let live?

I have all three vehicles, and I ride them all for different purposes which are obvious.

Bicycle for fun and excercise
E-Bike for fun and transportation
Car for transportation

I have friends that do not own a car but rely on their bicycle to get around. When we are getting together to go somewhere too far to bicycle they always want me to pick them up, instead of riding their bikes to my place and leaving from here. So this implication that some cyclists aren't lazy isn't true. We have cyclists that work in our factory that are complete lazy bums.
Not all cyclists are energetic, and not all ebikers are lazy. Get my point? I play golf and tennis with friends that don't own a bicycle. Why do some cyclist think they are better than the next guy because they ride a bike? Get off your high horses.

I agree and wouldn't support a ban on e-bikes. Ride an ebike instead of a driving your car. Absolutely! Or if you have MS or asthma that makes riding a bike difficult if not impossible. It is a great alternative for many people. But should you be on the shared use paths which include pedestrians? Or sidewalks because you have tiny wheels? No, absolutely not. Should you be in the bike lane? Probably not. In situations where an e-bike can maintain the same pace as the flow of cars, you shouldn't be in the bike lane just to "take advantage" of the ability to pass on the right. The rate of change of speed of other cyclists is pretty predictable, whether going up hill or accelerating from a stop, while e-bikes don't have the same behaviour. Everytime a new trend in wheeled transportation comes along, the automatic response is to put it in the bike lane.

I remember when microwave ovens first came out, the negativity was overwhelming. Years later everyone had and used one on a daily basis. This will happen with e-bikes as well. 10 years from now as the new generation gets older, and a new generation is born, e-bikes will be a normal accepted part of the mix. Until then, we will have to bear with certain negativity from certain people. It is a normal evolution of anything new. TV was considered a fad as well that would not last.

(New to I Bike T.O. - Hi everyone!)
I'm an e-biker, after more than a decade of regular biking I picked one up when my morning commute went from 10 minutes downhill to an hour uphill.

Context:Every day I ride...
Dundas/Ossington->Harbord/Ossington->Yonge/Bloor->Yonge/Merton->MacRae/Laird->Leslie/Eglinton on my e-bike; and then home again

When I got it, it was covered in all sorts of plastic fairings, footrests and panels (probably about 8 pounds). Over the past 18 months everything but the handlebar casing with the headlamp and electronics shed off on bits and pieces. As it shed away I learned more about the mechanics of the machine and made some adjustments (An aside in regards to e-bike maintenance - Canada needs its own manufacturer of e-bikes, or better yet some of the bike shops that do custom builds need to get their heads out of their asses and start offering hub motors and battery mounts as accessories, and designing customs with electrics instead of giving me disgusted/disparaging looks when I come in with a fist full of cash looking for parts, repairs, or someone willing to get paid to mod my ride).

My original top speed was ~32KM/h full out on the battery, with the 5 inch diameter chain ring on the undersized pedals really doing sweet f-all. So, once my warranty lapsed I had the hub motor pulled out of the 22' rim (yeah, 22', try and find replacement tube or tires for that when you get a flat or a warp) and put in a 24' double walled downhill racing rim, doubled the diameter of my chain ring and lengthened my pedals. Now I can get up to 32KM/h on battery, but maintain or surpass that speed under my own power. All I need now is to swap the front 22' for a 24' and replace the crappy drum brakes with new discs and I'll be golden.

I ride somewhat aggressively, I take my lane when the shoulder is in poor condition, when I'm turning or passing on the left - but I feel comfortable in doing so because I follow what I think are some simple 'E-Bike Rules' based on the philosophy that ' I'm a frakking slow motorcycle that has guest privileges in the bike lane' so...
a) Use the bike lane when it is safe for other cyclists that I am there, otherwise take a lane.
b) Ride the right side of the bike lane (the fast side).
c) Pass cyclists in a bike lane only after moving into the leftmost vehicle lane.
d) Signal all turns, stops and lane changes well in advance (at least 10 meters).
e) Do a FULL stop at ALL red lights and stop signs with other vehicles at them, I allow myself a slow yield at stop signs with no one else around.
f) Announce myself to others as I come up behind them, or am attempting to pass them by either calling 'On your left', or a short bleep on the horn.
g) DO NOT wear headphones or ear buds while riding so I can hear traffic and other riders (I have small speakers mounted to my helmet instead :P) .
h) DO NOT do anything while in motion that would require me to take either hand off my handlebars for any reason other than signaling turns or stops - no drinks, smokes, phones, texting, mp3 selecting, etc.
i) Do not use bike paths, those are for people on bikes, if I want to use the bike path then I can just damn well ride my regular bike.
j) Assume all drivers don't see you.
k) Assume all pedestrians are going to suddenly dart out into traffic from between two vans.
l) Assume any cyclists without a helmet, wearing headphones, or talking on their cellphones while riding is going to either cut you off or get hit by a frakking car because they are frakking asking for it.
m) Cab drivers have no idea what the actual rules of the road are, they just make them up as they go along.
n) Don't try and pass people in spandex with toe clips - you may have a motor, but they can still go faster.
o) Don't try and take the same short cuts as a bike courier, you'll end up with bent rims and battery acid all over your pants.
p) When going down Yonge St. from St Claire to Bloor learn to brake two blocks ahead - once you get your timing for the lights down its almost like a roller coaster.
q) 50 Year old men in convertibles blasting 80's hair metal are to be given 50ft clearance, they have a tendency to swerve a lot when they see boobies.
r) Carry enough tools and patches to fix a flat
s) Offer to help people that look like they may need help.
t) When you're in heavy traffic and come across a clump of older, slower, or frailer riders having difficulties with cars crowding them take your 350 lbs of flesh and steel into the lane just behind them until they thin out, that's a mitzvah.
u) Don't wear all black at night, that's just stupid.
v) And no hoodies up while riding, that's even stooooopider.
w) Wait until you get where you need to go BEFORE you drink a large coffee - Caffeine in traffic leads to adrenaline , adrenaline in traffic leads to agitation, agitation in traffic leads to u-locks hitting $%^$@#^@# Hummer windshields when they block not only an entire lane, but the bike lane as well.
x) Nicorette is better than cigarettes if you have a long bike/ebike commute, not just in the short run, but in the long run as well.
y) Pull over and stop for emergency vehicles - lead by example 'cus someday they may be coming for you.
z) Don't get too close to the curb at the north west corner of Spadina and Harbord after it rains or you're gonna need to change your shoes, socks, and pants.

Hmmm... anyone else have any suggestions for rules E-bikers should follow?
(I'm putting this one on the blog, holy crap! did I just spend an hour on this!)

Actually, there is a bike problem. Less than 2% of Canadians would describe the pedal bike as their primary form of transportation.
tks
locK

Grabbed the camera today but the settings had got mucked up w/the thing juggling around in my pockets... Anywhooo, missed a fun pic of five police officers on pedal bikes in Downsview... all riding together down the sidewalk...
tks
Lock

i have just purchased a scooter type e-bike and have been reading peoples' comments and concerns about my type of e-bike in bike lanes and multi-use paths like the martin goodman trail. i have to admit i am somewhat amazing at the arguments against e-bikes, especially from cyclists - some of whom appear to have taken cycling on as an identity instead of a mode of transportation. many of their poor arguments sounds exactly like the sort of things motorists said about cyclists when bikes started to appear on the landscape about 20 years ago.
i have ridden both bicycles and now an e-bike and i have found myself stunned by the bad road behavior and habits i see most cyclists make - many of which i was guilty of myself - jumping red lights, whizzing by other cyclists without any sort of warning, popping onto crowded sidewalks when cars block the way. yesterday, i saw a bike courier do a u-turn at bloor and bay!!!! since using my e-bike, i have become more conscious of my place on the road. i obey all stop signs, use my turn signals, wear a helmet, am aware and more considerate of other riders - i even went and got a copy of the rules of the road so that i could education myself. i'm in my late 50s and have never driven a car or had a drivers' license so i thought it was time, especially since in am using my e-bike to get back and forth from work - cabbagetown to kipling and lakeshore and back. i am not in great physical shape and my e-bike has given the freedom of unfettered transportation - unfettered if it wasn't for the hardcore cyclist who yell at me to get out of the bike lane as if they had been appointed "bike lane monitors." last night in fact i was going 35km/h along a totally empty davenport bike lane and a cyclist zipped by me in a blur and yells "get that out of the bike lane, asshole." it must be hard having the moral high ground i guess.
anyway, i am rambling. what i wanted t say that shane has a brilliant list of things all e-bikers and cyclists - wise and though. however, i think if i put my e-bike doing even 40 km/h - pushing it as fast as it can go - in traffic, i am a danger to myself and others on the road. better to be yelled at by an identity cyclists that honked at by a motorist - honked at and worse!!!
surely we are all in the good fight together and the bike lanes are big enough for us all if we treat each other - and the rules f the road - with respect and courtesy.

I am considering buying an e-bike and getting rid of one of our 2 cars, but if i'm to be discriminated against and not allowed in bike lanes and/or bike paths.....forget it , i think i'll pass on the e-bike. Bikes can go just as fast as an e-bike, and my proposed e-bike and me would weigh 200 pounds combined- why should i be forced to slug it out on Lakeshore Blvd, while the cyclists fly along the path?

because that's not what those paths were designed for that's why.

pennyfarthing ok frye