Guelph, Canada — Electric-powered bicycles are considered bicycles in most places around the world…as long as they meet certain specifications. If they can go faster than a certain speed, they are no longer considered e-bikes but rather scooters, for example. So how do you find what you need to know regarding e-bikes. Well, ask the shop where you’re buying it, of course, but also check your local government website to see what the rules are, just to doublecheck. In Guelph, for example, even though you don’t need a driver’s licence to ride a battery-operated bike, if you’ve lost your licence due to a Criminal Code infraction such as impaired driving, you are not allowed to ride them.
“If you operate an e-bike after losing your license, you can be charged with driving while disqualified,” Guelph Police Sgt. Doug Pflug pointed out. “It’s a bit confusing because the law says you don’t need a license to operate one.”
In Gueph, ebikes are those that operate on a battery not exceeding 500 watts or by pedal power and can’t go faster than 32 kilometers per hour. You can be as young as 16 to operate them and need to wear only a bicycle helmet. Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Emna Dhahak said the Criminal Code considers e-bikes a motorized vehicle, while the Highway Traffic Act considers them a bicycle. Therefore, if you lose your license due to Highway Traffic Act violations, you are still allowed to operate an e-bike. But a Criminal Code infraction means you can’t operate one.
WHAT ARE E-BIKES? (In Guelph)
- powered by electric motor not exceeding 500 watts
- maximum speed of 32 kilometres per-hour
- does not require insurance or driver’s licence
- operators must be at least 16-years-old
- must wear a bicycle helmet
- must have pedals that are operable