The NCC will be holding public consultations on the use of so called electric bikes on NCC pathways and bike lanes. The consultation will be held in Ottawa on May 3 & 4, 2011 (see the link below for more details).
The problem with all of this is that industry quickly started to build battery powered motorized scooters that technically and legally fall within the definition of an electric bicycle. These vehicles look like full fledged scooters and often weight as much 165 pounds (75 kg). In other words, these electric scooters are nothing more than motorized vehicles. (If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.)
From 2006 to 2009, Ontario conducted a three-year pilot project to allow for the use of "electric power-assisted bikes" on roads, bike lanes, and pathways coming under provincial jurisdiction. Initially, this pilot project was aimed at electric bikes that resemble conventional bicycles that are designed to be primarily operated by muscular power. Even the government website for the pilot project acknowledged that while scooter-style vehicles did meet the technical requirements, they did not meet the intent of the e-bike definition.
Unfortunately, when the pilot project came to an end, the Ontario Government took no steps to distinguish e-bikes from electric scooters. Instead, the government immediately decided (without any assessment period) to continue with the arrangements that were in place, which, among other things, allowed for the permanent use of motorized scooters wherever bicycles are allowed. (Do you think that, just maybe, the responsible minister was lobbied by the electric scooter industry?)
Although e-bikes and electric scooters can now be used on most bike lanes and paths coming under Ontario’s jurisdiction, up to now, they are not allowed on NCC facilities. As a result, the NCC has decided to hold public consultations on what what policies it should adopt about the use of e-bikes on its pathways and bike lanes. The rules being proposed by the NCC would only allow the type of e-bikes designed to be primarily operated by muscular power on pathways and certain other areas. However, the proposed rules would allow
battery powered motorized scooters on bike lanes managed by the NCC.
Somehow, it seems to be self defeating to allow these scooters in bike lanes that are supposed to be free of motorized vehicles.
Click here for more about the NCC public consultations process.
Click here for more about Ontario's regulation about e-bikes and electric scooters.
Click here for a photo of a battery powered motorized scooter.