Electric bicycle laws

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Different jurisdictions have varying laws that affect electric bicycles.


[edit] Emerging Laws Specific to Electric Bicycles

Motorized bicycles have been around for many years and are considereded mopeds in most jurisdictions - particularly if they are powered by a gasoline motor. The past few years have however seen an emergence of electric bicycles as a viable alternative to gas-powered motorized bicycles. Electric bike 2000 project (TP 13732E)

Canada, Europe and the United States have all passed legislation recognizing the unique characteristics of electric bikes: their quiet, clean operation, ease of use and their environmentally benign nature. Most jurisdictions recognize these as distinct from existing moped and motorcycle classifications because they are more akin to bicycles than their heavier, faster gas-powered cousins (the moped, motorcycle etc.).

Despite "National" laws defining and allowing electric bikes there is still confusion. There are sometimes older local laws that conflict with the new national regulations.

Electric bicycles are known by several different names, including "Power-assisted bicycle" (Canada), "Power assisted cycle" (United Kingdom), or "electric bicycles" in most other places in the world.

[edit] Canada

Since 2001, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs). Power Assisted Bicycles (PABs) are defined as a bicycle with an attached (electric only) motor. [1]

The Canada Gazette clarifies that a motorcycle is not a power-assisted bicycle, and goes on to define limits on the weight, dimensions, speed, electric wattage output, and other properties of a power-assisted bicycle.[2] Power-assisted-bicycles are limited to electric motors of 500W output and maximum speeds of 32km/h. Other safety requirements must also be met. Canadian laws regarding electric bicycles passed on April 12, 2001.

This vehicle can be imported and exported freely within Canada without the same restrictions placed on an automobile or a moped, although electric bicycles are not allowed in a few jurisdictions. In federal law, a moped is considered a "limited speed motorcycle", and is therefore not a PAB.

[edit] Ontario

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not currently define a power-assisted bicycle. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) defines a power-assisted bicycle and states that it cannot be legally operated on the road in Ontario, because it does not meet safety standards. [3]

There are a number of legal considerations for operating any bicycle in Ontario. [4]

[edit] Electric bicycles as mopeds

It may be possible to drive certain types of electric bicycles on road in Ontario, as long as they are registered as mopeds. This is because in Ontario the definition of moped (called a "motor-assisted bicycle" in the HTA) allows for electric mopeds. [5] In Ontario, mopeds require registration, plating, and insurance. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario does not normally allow registration of PABs as mopeds. A few electric bicycle owners in Ontario have managed to register their electric bicycles as as mopeds because they are not required to show a safety certicicate of inspection for registration.

[edit] Conflict between Ontario law and Canada law

Ontario is the last province in Canada to move toward legalizing PABs for use on roads, even though they have been federally defined and completely legal in Canada since early 2001.

[edit] Quebec

In Quebec and British Columbia, power-assisted bicycles are often classified similarly to standard pedal bicycles. They do not have to meet the conditions defined within the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (they are not classed as "motor vehicles"), but they do have to comply with federal regulations that define Power Assisted Bicycles.

The Quebec Highway Safety Code defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with an electric motor. PABs are permitted on the road in the province of Quebec.

[edit] United States

In the United States of America electric bikes are also nationally defined. The United States Department of Transportation has defined an electric bicycle as any bicycle or tricycle with an electric motor not exceeding 750W of power and bike weight under 100 pounds, with a top motor-powered speed not in excess of 20 miles per hour (equivalent to the Canadian 32km/h). An electric bike that meets these limitations is regarded as a bicycle by Senate Bill SR 1156 (date).

Although they are allowed in the US, and recognized by most states, electric bicycles have been banned in a few jurisdictions. In New York City, electric motor assisted bicycles are not permitted for on-road use. [6]

[edit] European Union

Electrically-assisted cycles are usually classified as either pedelecs or e-bikes. Under European Union regulations adopted in the UK in June 2003, only power-assisted cycles meeting the pedelec classification are considered to be pedal cycles;

The maximum power allowed in the European Union for (pedelec) electric bicycles is 250W, with a maximum assisted speed of 25km/h.EU definition for "pedelec" style electric-assist bicycle

To meet the pedelec specification the electric motor must be activated by the rider's pedalling effort and the power must cut out completely whenever the rider stops pedalling. Control of the motor by pedalling is often the key difference between a pedelec and and e-bike.

Earlier UK regulations required that the motor has an average power output limited to 200 W (250 W for an tricycles and tandems) and weight limited to 40 kg (60 kg for tricycles and tandems). These regulations must come in-line with the EU regulations by (find deadline).

For models sold before June 2003, e-bikes conforming to the speed, weight and power limits may also be considered pedal cycles.

Electric bikes with higher power outputs, or those not meeting the "pedelec" definition are now treated as motorcycles and require a license.

[edit] Sources

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