Cargo e-bike regulation vague on what cyclists should do in many situations: personal injury lawyer

Pilot project's requirements touch upon helmets, driver's minimum age, size and speed limitations

Cargo e-bike regulation vague on what cyclists should do in many situations: personal injury lawyer

The language in Ontario’s regulation for its pilot program for cargo power-assisted bicycles, which is set to run from Mar. 1, 2021, to Mar. 1, 2026, is vague and confusing, a personal injury lawyer has said.

David Isaac, a lawyer from Lerners LLP, said in a blog post that “the omission of the provision stating that the regulation only applies to heavy, commercial cargo bikes means that these rules likely apply” to all such vehicles.

Municipalities that have chosen to participate in the five-year pilot project should pass by-laws allowing the use of cargo e-bikes and should state the particular requirements that most appropriately suit their communities.

Pursuant to Ontario Regulation 141/21 under Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, cargo e-bikes should meet certain requirements such as a traditional bicycle design, an electric motor with 1000 watts maximum power output, 32 km/h maximum power-assisted speed, pedals always propelling the bicycle, a platform or basket or container to carry cargo or parcels or goods, steering handlebars, two or three wheels, brakes, a horn or bell, a white light in front, a red light in rear and reflective material on the sides.

The regulation sets out a maximum width, length and height for the cargo e-bike and a minimum width and diameter for the wheels, but provides no weight limit. The vehicle should not fully enclose its occupants, though partial enclosures over them are allowed.

“Unfortunately, this is the only time the word ‘occupant’ appears in the regulation, so it’s very difficult to say whether it refers to the cyclist or the passenger,” wrote Isaac in the blog post.

The regulation also provides certain requirements applicable to the driver of a cargo e-bike under the pilot project. The driver should be at least 16 years old, should wear a helmet, should let the passenger wear a helmet and should not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The driver should ensure that the passenger uses the seat designed for their use, should operate the cargo e-bike in the bicycle lane or at the right-most side of the road and should see to it that the load has been loaded, bound, secured, contained or covered, to prevent any of the load’s portion to become loose or dislodged or to fall, leak, spill or blow.

The regulation does not allow drivers of cargo e-bikes to tow devices or vehicles, to carry dangerous or hazardous goods, to leave the e-bike in a place meant for vehicles or pedestrians, to operate the e-bike on major highways and to modify the e-bike. Those who breach the pilot regulation will be fined $250 to $2,500.

The province will use the data collected, including information about any collisions, from the participating municipalities to decide if cargo e-bikes will be permanently permitted in Ontario and, if so, what the applicable rules will be.

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