Archives for posts with tag: E-bikes

One of the nice things about having a blog is the ability to share your opinions and start conversations about topics that are of interest to you. It’s also nice to hear back from readers and get their comments and opinions on posts.

Yesterday, I published a post about my concerns about e-bikes. It didn’t take long for me to hear back from e-bike riders, some of whom seem to be very vigilant about defending e-bikes from uninformed criticism.

Many of the comments on my post pointed out that I had very few facts and only anecdotes to support my complaints about e-bikes. I can only plead guilty to offering an opinion, based on my observations. I am clearly not equipped with the knowledge and expertise to make technical, fact-based safety comparisons between bicycles and e-bikes.

I got many vigorous comments in defense of e-bikes. I won’t repeat them – they can all be found here. I encourage you to read them.

But I want to put up a video that several of the commenters suggested I view.

My views have softened from reading the comments, but I still think that many e-bikes are closer to motorized scooters than bicycles. On the other hand, I can also say that e-bikes offer a level of mobility to some people that is beneficial to them and to the environment.

Whether you accept my opinion or not, here are a few things I hope we can agree on:

  • Any clean alternative to cars is a good alternative, whether they are e-bikes, bicycles, pedal scooters, unicycles, roller blades or skateboards – as long as they are operated in a safe and legal manner.
  • It’s critical that we teach people how to drive safely, take proper precautions, wear helmets and be aware of those with whom they share the road or bike path. I think it’s safe to say that governments, schools and other institutions could be doing more to ensure that anyone who wants to drive on our roads is as prepared as possible to do so in the safest possible way. And if you want to prioritize, start with drivers education – cars are still the biggest and most dangerous things on the road.

 

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I’m all in favour of getting people out of cars and getting more cyclists on the road, but what if your “bicycle” is a 120kg scooter that goes over 30km/h and makes no noise?

I’m not the first person in Toronto who has noticed a growing number of scooter type e-bikes driven dangerously, by people who are not only new to driving but who think that they can drive anywhere, anytime. I’m happy to share the road with anyone, but you must act in a safe manner.

Yesterday, while on a routine bike ride to get groceries, I noticed e-bike drivers riding on sidewalks, not wearing helmets, running stop signs into heavy traffic and generally not showing any awareness of the danger they are posing to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Last week, I was hit by an e-bike that decided, at full speed, to move from the right-hand lane of the street into the bike lane. There was no bell, no horn, no warning.

Image: Now Magazine

Of course, the same behaviours I noticed are the same ones motorists frequently observe among cyclists. The only difference is e-bikes weigh much more, have more velocity and take longer to stop than bicycles. They are essentially motorized scooters that have pedals – which, from what I’ve seen, are merely useless appendages.

The pedals are a convenient loophole. They province’s oversight of e-bikes makes it clear that having pedals means e-bikes are considered bicycles under the law and e-bike drivers do not require a licence. And, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, e-bikes “do not have to meet any federal safety standards.”

I find this odd. If regulations exist in part to ensure the safety of those who operate cars, bikes, motorcycles, scooters and those around them, then why is simply having pedals enough to remove e-bikes from further oversight and regulation? Why not use weight, size or a similar measurement to determine the appropriate safety and regulatory approach?

If there is a bigger debate taking part in Toronto about how to balance the needs of cars, public transit, cyclists and pedestrians, then e-bikes should be added to this list.

New shops selling e-bikes are popping up everywhere, offering mobility to those who are not able to ride a bike – but e-bikes should be treated as what they are: heavy, motorized scooters.