Electrically assisted bicycles without license plates, sometimes intercepted at speeds of 79 km/h, illustrate the problem represented by these machines, which exploit legal ambiguity to gain popularity.
Although many electric-assisted bicycles look like conventional bicycles, many take the form of a motorcycle, with pedals and a chain attached to comply with regulations.
This type of assistive bicycle was what a Montreal citizen was driving when police pulled him over at 40 km/h on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in August 2020.
In Lachute, on May 24, 2021, the police intercepted a similar device, this time at a speed of 79 kmph, when the offender was also banned from driving due to an offense related to impaired abilities.
The Highway Safety Code defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with pedals not exceeding 32 km/h, powered by an engine, and police officers issued drivers a $300 ticket because the motorcycle was not plated.
In both cases, the motorcyclists disputed the offence, claiming they were riding an electric bicycle.
A chain and pedals
In fact, their “motorcycle” is equipped with a chain and pedals, the motorcyclist uses only the power of the battery to move.
According to the judges, traveling at a speed of more than 32 km per hour means that the machine does not fall under the category of power-assisted bicycles. Except this type of challenge is on the rise in courts across Quebec.
A similar case involving a motorized toy vehicle went to the Superior Court, where a judge invited legislators to “review the regulations applicable to this new transportation sector,” citing “legal ambiguity.”
These “motorcycles” sometimes comply in all respects with the current regulations for electric bicycles weighing 125 lbs, which do not exceed 32 km/h.
“There are many manufacturers who have played with this definition to send all electric scooters into the category of electric bikes”, denied Velo Quebec representative Magali Bebronne.
As proof, an identical motorcycle, but without pedals, can reach 90 km/h and can legally ply the roads if it is registered by a motorcycle license holder.
Unblock the engine
However, on social media, videos show how to unlock the engine and take its limit from 32 to 90 km/h.
“Coexistence becomes very dangerous,” says Mme Bebronne urged SAAQ and the Ministry of Transport to act as soon as possible to clarify the regulations.
On the part of SAAQ, we guarantee that we are “reflected” in the legislative work framework to better regulate the machines.