Is an ebike a bike?

in

What is a bike? This item is on Public Works on October 11, should you wish to comment you can send ti to the city clerk at pwic@toronto.ca

This was a hot topic three years ago amongst cyclists. It needs to be looked at again.

The following is from their PWIC website.

Definition of a Bicycle

Origin
(September 24, 2012) Letter from the Chair, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee

Summary
The Chair, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, forwarding a communication from John V. De Marco regarding inconsistencies between the Highway Traffic Act and City by-laws as they pertain to the definition of a bicycle and requesting an amendment to Chapter 886.1 of the Toronto Municipal Code to include e-bikes.

Background Information
(September 24, 2012) Letter from the Chair, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, on Definition of a Bicycle
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/pw/bgrd/background...)
(September 20, 2012) Letter from John V. De Marco on Definition of a Bicycle
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/pw/bgrd/background...

Courtesy and sharing can go some way towards addressing the issue of compatibility of e-bikes in bike lanes and on multi-user trails, but to me there is a line where an e-bike ceases to be a battery assisted bike and becomes an electric motorbike. Assuming pedals are present, is that line defined by top speed? weight? physical size?

The second link should be http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-50507.pdf

For me, the point of an e-bike is that it is capable of a higher speed than a traditional bicycle in order to be able to keep up with most motorized traffic in an urban context. This eliminates the necessity and/or utility of riding in a bike lane, especially as the weight and speed of the e-bike increases relative to those of a regular bike.

I keep seeing this assertion being made that e-bikes are faster than unassisted bikes. It's untrue and a bit of googling dispels the notion.

"Typical speeds for bicycles are 15 to 30 km/h (10 to 20 mph). On a fast racing bicycle, a reasonably fit rider can ride at 50 km/h (30 mph) on flat ground for short periods"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance#Typical_speeds

"To operate an e-bike on Ontario’s public roads, the following vehicle safety and operator requirements are in place:
...
- No modifications to the motor to allow it to exceed a power output greater than 500W and a speed greater than 32 km/h.
..."
http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/vehicle/emerging/e-bike-faq.shtml#a8

So the maximum speed of a power assisted bike is at the upper edge of "typical" speeds, but well below the speed of a reasonably fit rider on a racing bicycle.

As to hypothetical modified e-bikes, if they exceed the MTO guidelines then they are not e-bikes and not relevant to the discussion.

Other than that, in the above statement -

Replace e-bike with road bike.

Replace e-biker with fit cyclist.

They may not be e-bikes according to the MTO directives, but they ARE relevant to the discussion, because they are still on the roads according to the rules that allow e-bikes in compliance to be there.

Most cyclists do not fall into the category of 'fit cyclist', at least not one consistently going 25-32 km/h or more. Bear in mind that e-bikes accelerate faster than regular bikes. Also, most cyclists will opt to stay in the bike lane if bikes are at least moving, even in the event of bike lane congestion, than get into stop-and-go car traffic, never mind switching back and forth. Traffic volume is almost always heavier in the main traffic lane.

Well, there's the theory, and there's practice. In theory "e-bikes" (electric motor scooters) may be speed-limited. In practice I've found that not to be the case - certainly when I was going 36 trying to get away from some idiot who couldn't ride in a straight line 'cause he was on his phone, he stayed right behind me. Where I really didn't want him - is he going to be able to stop that thing if I have to slam on the brakes to avoid a goose or a squirrel?

And that "can ride at 50km/h" is garbage in real life. Yeah, I can probably hit 50, on my road bike, if there isn't much of a head wind. For maybe 10 seconds. That's absolutely irrelevant to a discussion of how we want people to ride in bike lanes and on bike paths, where most riders are recreational or commuters. (My best sustained pace, on my commuter bike, carrying the usual junk in my paniers, is a bit over 30km/h.)

Most commuters, in my experience, tend to ride between 20 and 25 km/h. An electric scooter is fast enough to pass - typically badly - most of them.

Let's make sure road bikes can't use the bike lanes.

They ride faster than some other cyclists and I have an anecdote about one I saw riding badly.

They leave the bike lanes sometimes which is also relevant.

I'm sorry, I thought you understood basic logic. As the person making the (somewhat odd on the face of it) argument that it's safe or acceptable to operate motor vehicles on bike paths, it's your job to provide proof that is the case. Evidence to the contrary, aka counter-examples, are sufficient to disprove your argument. I don't have to make a valid proof, I just have to find evidence that disproves your point.

And the fact that there's no obvious way to tell a "path illegal" electric scooter from a "path legal" scooter, coupled with no enforcement and no meaningful penalty for modifying them, means that the only non-fairy-land way to treat electric scooters is that any, and perhaps all, may be illegal, and hence not suitable for bike paths.

Ottawa and Queens Park have already ratified that argument.

Anecdotes and conjecture do not disprove the point.

E-bikes that have been modified such that they no longer fit the MTO definition of an e-bike are neither road legal nor path legal. People have in fact been caught and charged in Ontario and the fines are severe.

In my mind there are two types of electric bikes.

There are those that are power assisted. I have no trouble classifying them as a bicycle. You have to pedal them, the electric is to help. My mother has one. Her knees are such that she wouldn't be able to ride hills without the assistance.

The type we encounter the most are the electric bikes. They have pedals but I never see their riders use. They are ornamental. These bikes are big and they are heavy. Their riders ride them like a motorcycle. I agree they are more environmentally firendly than a car. But they are not a bicycle anymore than a Harley is.

I feel it comes down to this. To be a bicycle, you are travelling primarily under your own power. If your primary mode of moving is a motor, you are a motorcycle. I have seen small gas powered dirt bikes on the Martin Goodman Trail. They should not be there. Neither should an ebike powered by a motor. Those are not bicycles.

According to the city's current definition, your mom is not allowed to use assistance to ride hills in bike lanes and parks.

11 Oct. Public Works Meeting

And so what happened? This is my version of it.

Five people supporting e-bikes and two people supporting cyclists spoke.

It would have done the cyclist community proud if the 2 deputants for them spent more time on the issues then on their qualifications as educated persons. Miss Idlewild was ‘wild’ and only knew the name of one of the deputants and was very proud of herself she knew how to pronounce it. It is unfortunate that she did not speak on the issues which make us different.

Not to worry. The Chair of Public Works never intended to hear the deputations in the first place. After a lengthy discussion on Item #1 he declared he intended to Refer the e-bike item until next Spring when all should have a report back from Transportation.

Democracy was mentioned and the fact that cyclists have had 64 items on Public Works’ agenda in 5 years, e-bikes none. City Councillors are always bragging about their penchant for diversity and democracy. These e-bikes have been here since 2006, what has transportation been doing?

Found this YouTube video on the difference between regular bikes and the other.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfiiNgW0JX0

Cheers

I have a certain disdain for e-bikes as well as for many of their riders. This is a straight-up bias and prejudice on my part. I resent that e-bikers want all of the privileges of riding a bike (like access to trails and bike lanes) without offering many of the benefits (exercise, human powered propulsion, etc) which comes from riding a pedal bicycle. And as bunch of "Johnny-come-lately's" I further resent the fact that they have not been seen with the rest us advocating for safe spaces to ride on our streets. And I further resent that anyone (over 16 years old) can buy what is essentially a motorized vehicle and take it out on our streets right away without any prior training or experience.

However, I do think that e-bikes should fit in.

I hope to grow old one day, and I cannot expect that I'll always be fit enough to pedal myself around; using an e-bike might make sense to me one day. Our provincial government has, for better or worse, indicated that these vehicles shall be deemed in law to be equivalent to pedal bicycles. And our provincial government has delegated authority to exclude e-bikes where it makes sense to do so. The Magna Carta - a 1000 year old document which is part of our own laws - is supposed to prevent our governments from unduly restricting the movement of people and goods. And our city has had some time for to figure out how to include e-bikes into our cycling infrastructure -- it's time for our city to "man up" and make it happen. At least on our streets.

Our trails are a very, very different matter. Some are owned and run by the TRCA and are true conservation areas, some are are owned by the TRCA but run by our city's Parks Department, some are owned and run by our Parks Department, some are owned by Parks but the trails is managed by Transportation Services. There are even other configurations of ownership, management and operations that cannot easily be disentangled.
Consider that many of our trails are intended for pedestrian use, yet they allow bikes. Few, if any, of our trails were designed and built with transportation as a primarily use. All of our trails have at least some segments in desperate need of upgrading to be properly suitable for transportation - even if we are using them that way today. More of our trails, and their segments, really should be upgraded (and ASAP, SVP) to be suitable for transportation - and when they are, then these upgraded trails really ought to be including e-bikes.

That some, or perhaps many, of our trails may never be deemed to be suitable for e-bikes is OK by me - perhaps these are trails that are not meant to be heavily used because they run through environmentally sensitive areas, or, perhaps, for other justifiable and reasonable reasons. Some of our current trails don't even allow pedal bicycles, and usually it is for good reasons.

Issues of weight and speed are not as important as some would claim - ultimately it's really how well the drivers of the vehicles behave. Cargo bikes can be heavier than than the heaviest of the e-bikes. At least some roadies can sustain speeds faster than the the 32km/h that e-bikes are limited to. And why are we splitting hairs over whether this or that vehicle is an electric motorcycle with pedals tacked on or if the vehicle a pedal bike with a motor and battery tacked on - for better or for worse they are all e-bikes in provincial law.

I think that many of us need to swallow our prejudices and just get on with finding ways of including e-bikes as part of our transportation mix. They already are, and will continue to be, mixing in with bicycles somehow. We really should be designing facilities that can be used by both e-bikes and pedal bikes from the get-go. And we should be welcoming our new two-wheeled comrades and encouraging them to advocate alongside us for more better and better cycling facilities for us all to use.

Yeah, yeah, you still hate e-bikes - me too. But we're not being fair if we to work to exclude e-bikes outright. I suggest we all (all being pedal and electric riders) work for more, and better, infrastructure that we can all benefit from and can share, that is we should be greedy together. Us pedal pushers really ought not to be too selfish with what little cycling infrastructure we currently have.

This was just posted online by the Toronto Star

Robyn Doolittle
Urban Affairs Reporter

**At city hall Thursday there was a fight about equality — bicycle equality.

**The public works committee has been asked to review its policy around electric bicycles. Specifically, if e-riders should be able to use cycling infrastructure, such as the new Sherbourne separated lanes or park trails.

According to city bylaws, only bicycles that are “propelled by muscular power” are allowed on city bike lanes. E-riders argue the roads aren’t safe for their limited horsepower.

Complicating the issue is that the province seems to put e-bikes in the same category as traditional bikes. Toronto bylaws override that legislation and in this city an e-rider using a motor on a park trail can be fined $305.

Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong put forward a motion to have city staff examine these issues and report back in the spring. The committee also decided to take about 20 minutes to hear from a handful of electric bike riders who showed up to plead their case.

Deputant and electric bike rider Ray Stasiulis, 47, called it a matter of life and death.

Without the use of bike lanes, his commute to northeast Mississauga from the westend would be “too dangerous, perhaps life threatening.”

Philip Cass, 52, touted the environmental benefits and noted he spends just $1 a week to keep his gas-less hog on the road, whereas a car would cost him at least $25.

“I’m here to support e-bike equality,” he told the committee.

Jim Thompson, who is a member of the Toronto Electric Riders Association, also made the safety argument.

Thompson says he’s never had a cyclist tell him to “get out of our lanes.”

But that’s what Minnan-Wong has been hearing.

The councillor said the feedback he’s received from some Toronto cyclists is that e-bikes take up a lot of space and move too quickly.

Left-wing councillor Mike Layton said afterwards he’s had a close call with an electric scooter before, after it silently sneaked up on his passing side in a bike lane then whizzed past.

“They’re so quiet that’s the problem,” he said.

Jared Kolb, director of campaigns and membership with Cycle Toronto, said the term “e-bike” is too vague.

“You’ve got to divide it. There are electric scooters and pedal-assist bicycles. We’re okay with pedal assist bicycles using bike infrastructure,” he said.

Pedal-assist bicycles look like a typical bicycle with a small box on the back. The scooters, which look like Vespas, are a different story.

“The excessive speed, weight and size of electric scooters are dangerous for cyclists in using (bike lanes and trails),” he said.

An old-fashioned bike rider will usually cruise between 15 and 20 km an hour.

Electric scooter riders can reach speeds of 35 km an hour.

These are the issues that staff will examine said Minnan-Wong.

Astrid Idlewild, who recently graduated from McGill with a masters in urban planning, said she resented the fact that the committee would be addressing the issue. She later explained she believes the Ford administration’s anti-cycling agenda is embodied in Minnan-Wong and the public works committee in general.

QUICK FACTS:

A bicycle: muscle powered.

A pedal-assist bicycle: bicycles that include an electric power source, which helps the rider use less energy and go faster, but doesn’t replace the need to pedal.

Electric scooters: These resemble motorcyles or Vespas and run solely on electric power.

To ride any e-bike you don’t need a licence but you must be at least 16.

Under provincial law, pedal assist bicycles and electric scooters are both considered e-bikes. As of 2009, all e-bikes are allowed on roads that convention bicycles can use. In fact, according to the province: “E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel” however “Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction,” which Toronto has done.

In Toronto, no e-bikes are allowed on bike lanes or trails and in city parks, riders can’t use any motor. So pedal-assist cyclists who turn off the power source can ride in parks. The fine for disobeying is $305.

Robyn Doolittle
Urban Affairs Reporter

34 Comments
At city hall Thursday there was a fight about equality — bicycle equality.
**
The public works committee has been asked to review its policy around electric bicycles. Specifically, if e-riders should be able to use cycling infrastructure, such as the new Sherbourne separated lanes or park trails.

According to city bylaws, only bicycles that are “propelled by muscular power” are allowed on city bike lanes. E-riders argue the roads aren’t safe for their limited horsepower.

Complicating the issue is that the province seems to put e-bikes in the same category as traditional bikes. Toronto bylaws override that legislation and in this city an e-rider using a motor on a park trail can be fined $305.

Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong put forward a motion to have city staff examine these issues and report back in the spring. The committee also decided to take about 20 minutes to hear from a handful of electric bike riders who showed up to plead their case.

Deputant and electric bike rider Ray Stasiulis, 47, called it a matter of life and death.

Without the use of bike lanes, his commute to northeast Mississauga from the westend would be “too dangerous, perhaps life threatening.”

Philip Cass, 52, touted the environmental benefits and noted he spends just $1 a week to keep his gas-less hog on the road, whereas a car would cost him at least $25.

“I’m here to support e-bike equality,” he told the committee.

Jim Thompson, who is a member of the Toronto Electric Riders Association, also made the safety argument.

Thompson says he’s never had a cyclist tell him to “get out of our lanes.”

But that’s what Minnan-Wong has been hearing.

The councillor said the feedback he’s received from some Toronto cyclists is that e-bikes take up a lot of space and move too quickly.

Left-wing councillor Mike Layton said afterwards he’s had a close call with an electric scooter before, after it silently sneaked up on his passing side in a bike lane then whizzed past.

“They’re so quiet that’s the problem,” he said.

Jared Kolb, director of campaigns and membership with Cycle Toronto, said the term “e-bike” is too vague.

“You’ve got to divide it. There are electric scooters and pedal-assist bicycles. We’re okay with pedal assist bicycles using bike infrastructure,” he said.

Pedal-assist bicycles look like a typical bicycle with a small box on the back. The scooters, which look like Vespas, are a different story.

“The excessive speed, weight and size of electric scooters are dangerous for cyclists in using (bike lanes and trails),” he said.

An old-fashioned bike rider will usually cruise between 15 and 20 km an hour.

Electric scooter riders can reach speeds of 35 km an hour.

These are the issues that staff will examine said Minnan-Wong.

Astrid Idlewild, who recently graduated from McGill with a masters in urban planning, said she resented the fact that the committee would be addressing the issue. She later explained she believes the Ford administration’s anti-cycling agenda is embodied in Minnan-Wong and the public works committee in general.

QUICK FACTS:

A bicycle: muscle powered.

A pedal-assist bicycle: bicycles that include an electric power source, which helps the rider use less energy and go faster, but doesn’t replace the need to pedal.

Electric scooters: These resemble motorcyles or Vespas and run solely on electric power.

To ride any e-bike you don’t need a licence but you must be at least 16.

Under provincial law, pedal assist bicycles and electric scooters are both considered e-bikes. As of 2009, all e-bikes are allowed on roads that convention bicycles can use. In fact, according to the province: “E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel” however “Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction,” which Toronto has done.

In Toronto, no e-bikes are allowed on bike lanes or trails and in city parks, riders can’t use any motor. So pedal-assist cyclists who turn off the power source can ride in parks. The fine for disobeying is $305.

Many bicycles can reach these speeds very easily I am sorry but your stament is incorrect.

My husband and I own a few e-bikes as well and 2 of them do the legal 32 kmph and one, mine, for some reason gets much faster up to 45 kmph although I very rarely will drive past 30.

The rare times I do go faster are only if and when I am travelling along St Clair West and there is hardly any traffic in my lane, or rather, none for a long way back in my mirror and i will then move into the faster lane and pick up speed in order to avoid riding by car doors and being doored, but that is very rare as I prefer to stick to the laws in order to not give e-Bikes a bad name. Or at least not being the cause of such.

Most cyclists on road bikes go right by me and faster. Ive not had any problem with bicyclists if only because I think its obvious to them I follow the rules of the road and by no means hurt cyclists so they are always friendly as I pull up but rarely can I go faster than one. If I can, its usually a woman on a cruiser whose shopping is in her front wicker basket but road cyclists forget it. They can out run me any day of the week!

I believe we have enough problems from drivers and the Rob Ford set, that we shouldn't be seen as having any infighting.
Its best we all get along and have a united front against the suburban car warriors. We should be happy to see all different kinds of cyclists on the roads, all contributing to the bike culture here in the city!

Cant we all just get along???

Yes, I think we can all just get along!

Most urban cycling doesn't involve speeds much higher than 25 km/h, maybe 30 on a downhill or flat stretch with little traffic. Most e-bikes appear to be travelling at 25 km/h at least, can maintain that kind of speed consistently without difficulty and it is well known that e-bikes can be, and often are, modified to travel faster than 32 km/h. E-bikers in Toronto tend to go with the flow of car traffic as long as it is moving, switching to the bike lane when cars come to a (near) standstill, then leaving the bike lane when that becomes too congested with bikes going at varying speeds.

pennyfarthing ok frye