BC Ferries

#1
Early onset Torsion Dystonia

I bought a 2018 750 Voltbike Limited delivered a year ago. I have had no trouble at all with this bike. Torsion Dystonia limits my ability to walk. I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. I wanted a bike that I could climb a mountain with that would also be good for the gravel roads in Saskatchewan and logging roads in BC. I added a trailer, small 1000w generator and camping gear. I toured close to home for the summer. I was in no rush and stopped to charge the battery when needed. Freedom!

I have a push wheelchair for longer trips but as long as I had the bike and was able to walk short distances it was collecting dust. Last winter I planned a trip in the new year by train to Jasper for two days of camping, Prince George and a further two nights in Prince Rupert. By BC Ferries to Haida Gwaii for a month of biking and camping using the small community of Sandspit as a home base for supplies and shelter. Back on the ferry to Prince Rupert and another ferry to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and camp and bike my way to Vancouver with a stop on Salt Spring Island, BC before returning to Saskatchewan by train.

The planning for the trip made use of Google earth, maps and street view. A plan B and C was needed. The Google Earth view of the ferry ramps were long and the small ferries the ramps looked steep like I would not be able to push the bike and trailer on and off the ferry as required. I requested that I be allowed to ride the bike on and off the ferries. I sent BC Ferries a letter from my doctor, a picture of my feet and a picture of the bike, trailer and generator. I told them the generator was drained of gas, shrink wrapped and sealed in a plastic container.

I was assured by email that there would be no problem riding the bike on and off the ferry. I told them my face Dystonia makes it difficult for people to understand what I am saying and I preferred to use email. I booked the trip. I waited and waited weeks. I had to contact them as the credit card was going to expire. Five week after I first contacted them I received the conditions of travel by email from BC Ferries.

I cut and pasted it below for anyone who is planning an electric bike trip with BC Ferries.

Customer Relations
Wed, 20 Mar, 17:10
to me

Dear James,

Thank you for your patience while I have been looking into this for you. I want to make sure that you have the all the information that you need to make your trip as seamless as possible.

As far as your equipment, I have been in touch with the necessary department to inquire about dangerous goods. In order to look into these items further, the UN # is required, so I was not able to get the specific answers for you. The items in questions would be the lithium ion battery, and any fuel for the generator. If the battery does not have a UN # then it will be permitted on board as it will not classify as dangerous goods. The one issue may be the fuel for the generator – I’m not sure what fuel you use, however as per our dangerous goods policy, foot passengers are not allowed to carry gasoline on board.

More information about our dangerous goods policy and items that are permitted can be found online here: https://www.bcferries.com/travel_planning/dangerous_cargo.html. To inquire about whether or not your specific setup and items will be permitted, you can contact our Dangerous Goods Department directly at [email protected] or 250-978-1152. This department can assist you with information on the routes between Duke Point and Tsawwassen, or any southern Gulf Islands you may travel to. Make sure you have any UN numbers ready, as well as any container quantities (and type) for fuel you need to travel with.

For the route between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii as well as Prince Rupert and Port Hardy, you will need to inquire with the Prince Rupert Terminal directly. Please phone 1-877-223-8778 and first select option 1 for Prince Rupert and then option 4 for commercial or option 2 for lost and found (these are the only 2 options that go through to the terminal directly). They will be able to advise you about dangerous goods for the northern routes.

As far as the classification of your e-bike, it will be considered a bike and booked as such as long as the electric motor does not exceed 500 watts, the unit cannot exceed 32 km/h without pedalling, and that the unit bears a permanently affixed manufacturers label stating that the vehicle is a power assisted cycle.

I have engaged the Marine Superintendents for the various terminals you will be travelling to inquire about your need to ride the bicycle onto the vehicle deck. They believe that it should be find; however possible risks that need to be minimized are any danger to yourself, either falling on the ramp or getting hit by any vehicles, as well as any danger to other foot passengers and contact with your bicycle. I believe the best way to proceed forward with this will be once we have your reservations booked (for those that are reservable) as well as your travel dates firmed up – would be to give a head’s up to the specific terminals about your request and unique needs. This was we can make sure we are prepared to accommodate upon your arrival.

Once on board the vessel, your bicycle will have to remain on the vehicle deck for the duration of the sailing. You mentioned that once on board you will not require assistance. The stairwells on the vessels that you will be travelling on are quite steep; however we do have elevator access which can assist you if you prefer.

I received your most recent email – thank you. You mentioned that your credit card will expire while you are away. We can make the reservations you requested and then wait until you have the new credit card information to take payment – once you have it you can resubmit one of your reservation requests with the new credit card info online and then we can use it to charge payment for the bookings that require prepayment.

Thank for your patience while we work together to get all the info you need. Once you have had a chance to reach out to our Dangerous Goods Department and the Prince Rupert terminal, please let me know the outcome of the approval of your dangerous goods inquiries for the battery, generator and fuel. In the meantime, we can book your reservations on the reservable routes, and then get in touch regarding payment.

Please let me know of any other questions you have and I will try my best to get the answers for you. I’m looking forward to this exciting trip for you.

I will await your reply.

Kind regards



George

Advisor, Customer Relations

Customer Care

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.

The Atrium

Suite 500, 1321 Blanshard St., Victoria, BC V8W 0B7
 
#5
Having toured quite a bit using BC Ferries over the years, I can add a couple of observations and tips:
  • On a lot of the bigger ferries they have bike racks, which is cool. What is not so cool is that the bike racks are often on the upper car decks so you will have to walk your bike up and down a steep and often slippery ramp to the bike rack.
  • The smaller ferry terminals often have the steeper ramps. The big ferry terminals rarely do so.
  • There are prepaid card deals for ferry travel. If your itinerary has a lot of ferry connections you can save quite a bit of money using those cards.
  • The longer rides, like Prince Rupert - Port Hardy, often have few comfortable places to sleep during the journey. The ferries can often be noisy and the "staterooms" are tiny and not particularly comfortable. So don't plan an ambitious day right after getting off the ferry.
In general BC-Ferries linked trips can be really fun and are highly recommended.
 
#6
Having toured quite a bit using BC Ferries over the years, I can add a couple of observations and tips:
  • On a lot of the bigger ferries they have bike racks, which is cool. What is not so cool is that the bike racks are often on the upper car decks so you will have to walk your bike up and down a steep and often slippery ramp to the bike rack.
  • The smaller ferry terminals often have the steeper ramps. The big ferry terminals rarely do so.
  • There are prepaid card deals for ferry travel. If your itinerary has a lot of ferry connections you can save quite a bit of money using those cards.
  • The longer rides, like Prince Rupert - Port Hardy, often have few comfortable places to sleep during the journey. The ferries can often be noisy and the "staterooms" are tiny and not particularly comfortable. So don't plan an ambitious day right after getting off the ferry.
In general BC-Ferries linked trips can be really fun and are highly recommended.
Do you know what the UN # is that BC Ferries is asking for?
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
#7
Do you know what the UN # is that BC Ferries is asking for?
No.

This whole topic never came up. I just paid for my ticket and got on the ferry and was good to go. I also saw plenty of other folks on e-bikes so it wasn't like I was a unique special case they'd never seen before.

In general the reasonable assumption I would make is anything that you could safely ship via ground shipping you could take on a ferry. So a drained generator shrink-wrapped or an e-bike would be fine. For places like Haida Gwaii everything except fuel comes on the ferry so you should be just fine bringing your kit. And people bring RVs and trailers on ferries all the time. They have big propane tanks and generators in most of them. So again it is hard to imagine how there would be a problem with your e-bike.
 
#8
No.

This whole topic never came up. I just paid for my ticket and got on the ferry and was good to go. I also saw plenty of other folks on e-bikes so it wasn't like I was a unique special case they'd never seen before.

In general the reasonable assumption I would make is anything that you could safely ship via ground shipping you could take on a ferry. So a drained generator shrink-wrapped or an e-bike would be fine. For places like Haida Gwaii everything except fuel comes on the ferry so you should be just fine bringing your kit. And people bring RVs and trailers on ferries all the time. They have big propane tanks and generators in most of them. So again it is hard to imagine how there would be a problem with your e-bike.
Did they ask you about your motor size or the other information about your e-bike they requested above?
 
#10
Thanks for answering. Looks like they have singled me out for some reason. Never had a problem like this before. They at first asked me to phone them and I told them that the Dystonia makes it difficult for people to understand what I am saying so I use email. They want me to phone every terminal. West Jet is the best, wheelchair to the door, my seat is the first window seat on the left, wheelchair gets loaded and we are off. I can take my bike, trailer and generator on Via Rail and stop at any station with a platform, bike and camp to the next station and get the next train anywhere in Canada where they go. There are just no words that describe the many benefits of riding my E-bike. If you have a mobility issue and have the mental capacity required to balance a bike do not let the Georges of this world stop you. This reflects badly on the management at BC Ferries, their employees are no different then the caring volunteers across this great country who deliver your meals on wheels, give you rides and check to see you are alright. Yes you can, buy an e-bike.
 
#11
I requested that I be allowed to ride my bike with the trailer on and off the ferry because I am limited in the distance I can walk. It’s the e-bike or wheelchair for any long distance travel.

I found online where a e-bike owner with a trailer was allowed to ride the bike on and off the ferry. I was thinking the reason for the above conditions of my accessing the ferry may have been because of the trailer. Still don’t know what a UN # is.

I don’t think all these conditions above have anything to do with the bike battery or generator. After reading the medical information I supplied in support of my request and seeing the picture of my feet BC Ferries has done a risk assessment on me, and decided that I am dangerous goods.

The Canadian Transportation Agency helps ensure that any undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities are removed from federal transportation services and facilities:

The Agency's jurisdiction
air carriers operating within, to, or from Canada;
rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate between provinces or territories or between Canada and the United States;
airports, rail stations and ferry terminals located in Canada; and
services that are integral to the transportation services provided by a carrier or terminal located in Canada.

I received this from them:

Hello James,

Thanks for contacting the Canadian Transportation Agency and telling us your story.

Unfortunately, your request does not fall under the mandate of the Canadian Transportation Agency. The Agency doesn’t have jurisdiction BC ferries as they do not leave BC.

I would suggest you contact BC's Human Rights tribunal, which could better assist you on this matter. You can contact them at http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/complaint-process/complain/index.htm or visit bchrt.bc.ca for more information.

I hope this helps,
Office des transports du Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
[email protected] / Tél: 1-888-222-2592 / ATS: 1-800-669-5575
Suivez-nous : Twitter / YouTube
Canadian Transportation Agency / Government of Canada

I think the management at BC Ferries would better serve the public by building a shelter in one of the car lanes with power outlets for all the electric cars and bikes that will soon be arriving. Is it true they had new ferries built without power outlets for phones and laptops? Dogs are treated better than the disabled, we are just BC Ferries jetsam.
 
#12
Hi Garry - I am not an expert on this but I believe the UN# the BC ferries individual was asking for is an identification scheme for hazardous cargo.

See this link - Wiki Article on UN Numbers

Specifically, "Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment including lithium ion polymer batteries" is UN-3481 - see Link here

This same link lists some other UN#'s for similar items (other battery technologies).

Perhaps the bike vendor or manufacturer of the battery pack could get you the UN # if you really wanted to pursue it … but I suspect that if the battery is mounted on the e-Bike and the e-Bike meets the Canadian rules (< 500W, < 32kph without pedaling, etc.) and if they allow THAT on board, I can't imagine they could complain about the battery itself. An extra, unmounted battery might be an issue. Although I guess airlines restrict this sort of thing all the time.

All of this seems kind of ridiculous as if an EV drives on the ferry, they don't require this level of documentation - perhaps we need to convince the law makers to think of an e-Bike more of as a vehicle than as something a "foot passenger" brings along.

Best of luck with your travels ...
 
#13
I am not BC Ferries hazardous cargo.

When I first read the email from George it was clear to me that he was placing restrictions on my accessing the ferries that did not apply to any others.

George said: “If the battery does not have a UN # then it will be permitted on board as it will not classify as dangerous goods.” George knows that most if not all the lithium ion electric bike batteries traveling on BC Ferries are classed as dangerous goods. I know that any lithium ion batteries over 100Wh are classed as dangerous goods anywhere in Canada.

I do not know what a UN # is but I know that George knows what it is and he knows that most if not all the e-bikes traveling on BC Ferries have batteries classed as dangerous goods. I get this load of arrogant garbage from George because he knows that the Canadian Transportation Agency doesn’t have jurisdiction over BC ferries. The disabled or people with mobility issues who need any kind of assistance to board a BC Ferry deserve better protection of their rights from this so called public transportation company.

Do any of you think BC Ferries has the right to make any decision about where I can go or not go because my feet look like this? I get to make those decisions.
 

Attachments

#14
Thanks for the links for the battery UN numbers. I am assuming the UN member countries have agreed to have rules that are universal for shipping. The information below is from Transport Canada and links to websites that know about these things.

I have a lithium-ion battery and found the UN number 3480 on the Transport Canada website. A battery over 100WH is classed as dangerous goods.
http://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/saf-sec-sur/3/sched-ann/schedule2.aspx?UN=3480&SP=34

"(b) for a lithium metal or lithium alloy battery, the aggregate lithium content is not more than 2 g, and for a lithium-ion battery, the watt-hour rating is not more than 100 Wh;

(c) lithium ion batteries are marked with the watt-hour rating on the outside case, except for those manufactured before January 1, 2009; "


To calculate watt hours (WH)
https://www.electricbike.com/watt-hours/

To calculate the watt hours (WH) of a battery pack, simply multiply the voltage by the amp hours (Ah) of the pack. A 36-volt 10-Ah battery pack has 360 watt hours (36 X 10 = 360).


Watt Hours; Calculating E-bike Range
https://www.electricbike.com/watt-hours/
A 36-volt 10-Ah battery pack has 360 watt hours (36 X 10 = 360). If you are nitty with your energy usage, each mile you travel will cost you about 20 watt hours. Therefore a 360 watt hour pack will get you about 18 miles. The range can vary widely depending on where and how you ride.

https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tdg/clear-part11-120.htm
Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii
11.1 Marine Transport - IMDG Code
SOR/2017-253
(1) A person who imports, offers for transport, handles or transports dangerous goods by vessel must comply with the IMDG Code if the dangerous goods are in transport between
(a) two points in Canada on a voyage during which
(i) the vessel goes more than 120 nautical miles from shore…


IMDG Code or International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code is accepted as an international guideline to the safe transportation or shipment of dangerous goods or hazardous materials by water on vessel.

Prince Rupert - Port Hardy and all other BC Ferries.
11.2 Marine Transport — Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations
SOR/2017-253
A person who imports, offers for transport, handles or transports dangerous goods by vessel must comply with these Regulations if the dangerous goods are in transport between.

(a) two points in Canada on a voyage during which the vessel is always within 120 nautical miles from shore…


I could find nothing about the above on the BC Ferries website. I could not find anything about electric or e-bikes on their website. I do not know why the rights of the disabled in Canada do not apply to BC Ferries or why BC Ferries can ignore the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations and only apply them to the disabled.

George is correct, my battery is classed as dangerous goods the same as most of yours are.

1.10 Requirements respecting the transportation of dangerous goods on board passenger carrying vessels
SOR/2017-253
1.18 Medical Device or Article
These Regulations do not apply to the transport on a road vehicle, a railway vehicle or a vessel on a domestic voyage…


Like all the other people in Canada who have mobility issues and lithium-ion powered transportation our transportation is exempt as they are classed as a medical necessary device. I can not peddle my bike very far. I am able to walk ½ city block before the pain stops me. I am dependant on the battery and motor. It only took a few hours for Via Rail to say, welcome aboard. It took BC Ferries over 5 weeks to say, get lost.

I did find this highlighted bold warning in a few places on the BC Ferries website:

Remember, all dangerous goods must be declared at the terminal ticket booth or to a vessel officer. Failure to declare dangerous goods is an offence under Canadian law.
https://www.bcferries.com/travel_planning/dangerous_cargo.html

I was looking forward to the brew pubs on Salt Spring Island and meeting some elderly 1960’s pot smoking hippies on my travel around the island and Haida Gwaii. I can rent a bike on Salt Spring Island and get there in an old Beaver from Vancouver.

Why not get together there this summer, get drunk and disorderly and have a discussion about changing the laws so Canadians can travel on public transportation in Canada just like those disabled old farts. Bring these young people who made this battery with you.
https://www.ebikes.ca/product-info/ligo-batteries.html

E-bikes are going to be like A-Holes, everyone is going to have one. They will all thank you.