Are you considering buying an e-bike to get around the Greater Toronto Area or elsewhere in Ontario? With recent news of people being surprised that their motorized bicycle is not viewed as an electric bike or e-bike permitted on city roads, here are a few things to consider before investing in one.

E-Bike Specifications

If part of the appeal of an e-bike is affordability because you don’t need a driver’s licence, plate registration, or insurance, you will want to make sure that the e-bike is indeed a power-assisted bicycle.

In Ontario, a power-assisted bicycle is excluded from the definition of a “motor vehicle” under the Highway Traffic Act. For a motorized bicycle to be considered a power-assisted bicycle, a number of specifications need to be met. These include:

  • The bicycle weighing not more than 120 kg (includes the battery weight);
  • The minimum wheel width being 35 mm;
  • The minimum diameter of the wheels being 350 mm;
  • The motor must cease to propel the bicycle if pedalling stops, the accelerator is released or the brakes are applied;
  • No modifications are made to have an electric motor exceeding 500 watts and a speed greater than 32 km/h; and
  • The bicycle has at all times pedals capable of propelling the bicycle solely by using muscular power.

If the specifications of the motorized bicycle are not met, it could be viewed as a motor vehicle that may require a driver’s licence, permit, and insurance (such as a moped or a motor scooter).

E-Bike Operation

The driver, and any permitted passenger, of a power-assisted bicycle must be at least 16 years of age.

You will need to invest in a helmet even though with conventional bicycles, cyclists aged 18 and older are not required to wear helmets. If you drive or ride on a power-assisted bicycle, you are required to wear a helmet that complies with regulations even if you are aged 18 or older.

You can operate or ride a power-assisted bicycle that is in good working order. Power-assisted bicycles are not permitted on controlled-access highways (such as the 400 series highways). Also, municipalities may have further rules restricting the operation a power-assisted bicycle, including no driving of them on sidewalks or trails.

E-Bikes and Liability

Even if you are not required to have insurance to operate an e-bike, you may still want to consider insurance coverage. If you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian or motor vehicle, you may be responsible to pay for your own expenses and be personally liable for any claims made against you by the other party to the accident.

Not all insurance companies have specialized e-bike insurance. In speaking with insurance brokers to understand which policies would be appropriate for you, ask about coverage in replacing a power-assisted bicycle (such as in the case of theft of the e-bike) and third party liability coverage (such as if you were to get into an accident while on an e-bike). Also, ask questions to understand what limitations exist.

If you find yourself injured in a situation involving an e-bike, and neither you nor the other person involved in the accident has insurance, consult with a personal injury lawyer. They will be able to assist in determining whether a claim can be made through other legal options.

For over 30 years, Douglas Strelshik has been representing injured parties in personal injury claims. He can assess whether an insurance company’s denial of coverage and amount of any settlement offers are reasonable. Contact Douglas at 647.348.5422 to discuss your specific case.