Canada: $600 penalty for not having insurance

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Cyclists getting ticketed for no insurance blame confusing e-bike legislation
Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/brit...-blame-confusing-e-bike-legislation-1.5278601

But RCMP say people should educate themselves on the law before buying motor-assisted cycles
Adam van der Zwan · CBC News · Posted: Sep 15, 2019 8:00 AM PT | Last Updated: September 15



E-cyclists in Greater Victoria say they're being unfairly ticketed by the RCMP for not having insurance on a type of e-bike that shouldn't require it. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

College student Jason McCracken bought his electric bike last year to save money and, he says, act in a more environmentally conscious manner.
But this summer he was hit with nearly $600 in RCMP tickets and towing fees for failing to obtain insurance — even though ICBC does not offer insurance for his particular kind of bike.

"I'm just worried if I go back to college with my e-bike, they'll give me ... maybe 10 tickets in a row," he said.
While McCracken's bike looks like a scooter, ICBC defines it as a "motor-assisted cycle," which needs to be equipped with bicycle-style pedals, have a maximum motor speed of 32 km/h and an electric motor of 500 watts or less.
ICBC's website says insurance and a licence are only required for e-bikes classified as limited speed motorcycles or scooters, which do not have pedals and run at speeds of up to 70 km/h.
McCracken is one of three Victoria e-cyclists CBC spoke to who say the Integrated Road Safety Unit has been unfairly doling out tickets for no insurance.
Kelly Goldbeck from KGeez Cycle store in Victoria says there are far more of his customers than that being unfairly ticketed and he's fed up with it.
"You can ride them just like a bicycle in the bike lanes," he said.


Jason McCracken now faces nearly $600 in RCMP tickets and towing fees for not pedalling his motor-assisted cycle with the throttle on. The RCMP's traffic unit says, if the pedals are not being used, an e-bike is considered a motor vehicle under the law and needs to be insured. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

'A lot of confusion out there'
But officers with the Integrated Road Safety Unit in Greater Victoria say these kinds of e-bikes are a nuisance when it comes to enforcing a clear law that cyclists need to be aware of.
IRSU commander Sgt. Ron Cronk said while many of these bikes are built with a throttle to allow cyclists to coast without pedaling, B.C.'s regulations say motors are meant only to "assist the pedaller."
Section 3(2) of B.C.'s Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation says "the motors of a motor assisted cycle must turn off or disengage if the operator stops pedalling, an accelerator is released or a brake is applied."
"If you can start from a stop [by] twisting the throttle and not pedaling, you are now considered a [Class 5] motor vehicle, and the bike has to be registered and insured," said Cronk.
"There's certainly a lot of confusion out there," said Cronk. "Dealerships that are selling these things need to be regulated, because they're giving misinformation."

E-cyclist wins in court

But the court has, in some cases, been hesitant to side with the police when it comes to addressing the confusion around cycling regulations.
Local cyclist Evan Laine took his ticket to traffic court in June where Justice Hunter Gordon waived the no-insurance fee, after learning that ICBC wouldn't insure Laine's bike.
"It strikes me as the wrong application of the law to require someone to be insured that couldn't be … even if they wanted to," Gordon concluded in a recording of the hearing.
Laine said ICBC's website was confusing and contradictory to the way the RCMP interpret the law, as it says "it is not necessary to always be pedalling" a motor-assisted bike.


ICBC's website says while they may appear the same, motor-assisted cycles are different from scooters or limited speed motorcycles by virtue of their pedals, maximum speed and power source. (Screenshot courtesy of the ICBC website)

'Just electric scooters with pedals'

At the end of the hearing, Const. Mike Christians, who issued Laine's ticket, responded to the judge's decision.
"My enforcement pattern likely will not change as a result of the court findings today," he said.
Christians told the judge that motor-assisted cycles are "just electric scooters with … pedals attached that don't actually do anything."
"What part of this vehicle is a bicycle?" he said, adding he saw the bikes as an "attempt to bypass the law."
Christians cited a similar case in 2012, where the judge ruled in the police's favour. But that judge also suggested the regulations be reviewed as e-bikes become more popular.


RCMP Const. Mike Christians said in a court hearing last June that he felt many motor-assisted cycles are 'just electric scooters with pedals' that were created in an 'attempt to bypass the law.' (Mike McArthur/CBC)

ICBC is misleading, lawyer says

B.C. lawyer Paul Hergott, who researched the issue in 2013, said police are interpreting the law correctly, but the explanation on ICBC's website is misleading for cyclists who rely on it for the rules.
"There needs to be clarity," said Hergott. "The government has not stepped in to prevent this problem."
Hergott suggested that a e-bike sellers be required to give information handouts to those purchasing the bikes and that the legislation be revised to reflect how e-bikes actually operate.
A Ministry of Transportation document on its new active transportation strategy says "the Motor Vehicle Act was identified as a key piece of legislation that needs to be updated to include … new mobilities (such as e-bikes and scooters)."
A ministry statement says "the Province is currently evaluating the legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks" for e-bikes.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Sarge Cronk is wrong, esepecially when he starts writing tickets to ebikers who start off on throttle..
The BC lawyer is wrong too if he thinks Cronk is right.
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
Let's see...
Regulations to the Motor Vehicle Act: motor must “disengage if the operator stops pedaling”. Sounds like throttles are technically illegal without insurance. The fact that BC Insurance Corporation has confusing info on their website, making it look like throttles are legal, is a different matter.

What sunk the ship, was the removed pedals, as they were another requirement to ride uninsured. With pedals in place cops would less likely stop that poor student.
These Chinese cheater-bikes are in fact scooters, riders know that, cops know that. Pedals on such devices are un-pedalable and even unsafe, and many riders remove it. Not to mention that this thing weighs a ton, you will never pedal it.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
Let's see...
Regulations to the Motor Vehicle Act: motor must “disengage if the operator stops pedaling”. Sounds like throttles are technically illegal without insurance. The fact that BC Insurance Corporation has confusing info on their website, making it look like throttles are legal, is a different matter.

The full sentence of that section actually reads...

"the motors of a motor assisted cycle must turn off or disengage if the operator stops pedalling, an accelerator is released or a brake is applied."

So by that standard, a throttle is fine. The only part of the MVA that makes throttles questionable is that they shouldn't be able to be used until the e-bike reaches an unassisted speed of 3kph.


I DO agree with the rest of your point. The Vespa style e-scooters like the one in the CBC article shouldn't be in the same class as an e-bike that will function just like a bicycle if the battery dies. I've seen a few of these going way faster than 32kph here in Toronto.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Okay, just a bit off topic, but...

So it sounds like the RCMP officer personally disagreed with the judge's decision, and he will simply ignore the court ruling and keep handing out what could possibly be false accusation tickets.

Shouldn't he be respecting the law or court rulings? If he honestly disagreed, I'm sure he could proceed to appeal the judgement, instead, he will just disregard the judge's decision and keep enforcing the law that's already been dismissed by the court.

Under the "Motor Assisted Cycles" it did in fact, showed the Vespa look-alike scooter with pedals on it. I think the judge was being very reasonable and agreed that it was in fact, confusing.

The officer might be picking the judge's nerve if he keeps writing the same ticket and over and over again..
If somebody else dispute the case again, and if the same officer gets the same judge... I don't think it will go well.
 

Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
I am not a fan of the scooters that have pedals that are impractical to use and only there to skirt the regulations. One of the criteria to determine if it's really an ebike vs. a scooter is maybe to set a maximum weight of say 70 lbs. If you're over that it's a scooter and you can't ride it in the bike lane.

With how powerful some bikes are, what's the big deal with having to pedal just a little bit? But I guess I'm at the other end of the spectrum as I put more miles on my regular bikes than my electric. I prefer the riding experience to feel like a regular bike and want a lightweight ebike that just provides a bit of assistance for my rest days. Which are more often as I get older!
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Like it or not, it seems to me that a old guy on an electric scooter in Canada is stereotyped as a person who lost his licence. Hence the police interest in further hassle.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Like it or not, it seems to me that a old guy on an electric scooter in Canada is stereotyped as a person who lost his licence. Hence the police interest in further hassle.
He was a college student, so he's 20 something or perhaps as young as 18.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Which makes me wonder why he can't pedal just a little bit.
So are you suggesting that young people should just ride normal bicycle?
If so, this kind of notion is exactly why many people think ebikes = assistive device for elderly people.

I see no problem younger people riding ebikes, it's fun, cheap and healthy. Perfect for students and less polluting than driving a car or motorcycle.
 

Solom01

Well-Known Member
Well, I don't know about Canada, but with the incredible amount of obesity we have in the US including children, yes, it would be a good idea for kids who are otherwise healthy to actually get some exercise. Funny, people have no problems talking about how bad smoking is and calling out people who smoke because of it's cost to society, but suddenly it is "fat shaming" to tell someone to exercise, even though the cost to public health (which we all pay for) of obesity could easily exceed that of smoking. And no, it's not genetics or something most people can't help. The average weight of American males has gone from 160 pounds in the 1960's to 200 pounds today. It's more likely caused by tons of junk food and sitting around all day playing video games. I use to see kids biking all the time, now it's a rare sight. But seeing fat kids is so common now that people take it as being "normal".
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Well, I don't know about Canada, but with the incredible amount of obesity we have in the US including children, yes, it would be a good idea for kids who are otherwise healthy to actually get some exercise. Funny, people have no problems talking about how bad smoking is and calling out people who smoke because of it's cost to society, but suddenly it is "fat shaming" to tell someone to exercise, even though the cost to public health (which we all pay for) of obesity could easily exceed that of smoking. And no, it's not genetics or something most people can't help. The average weight of American males has gone from 160 pounds in the 1960's to 200 pounds today. It's more likely caused by tons of junk food and sitting around all day playing video games. I use to see kids biking all the time, now it's a rare sight. But seeing fat kids is so common now that people take it as being "normal".
It knows no borders.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
It knows no borders.
Actually, not so.

According to the Government of Canada, obesity rate is far less in Canada than the US.

I also found that Canadians love healthy snacks, rather than simple junk food.
For example, they tend to talk about good fat like Omega 3 and 6, organic, high fiber, high protein, low sugar, no artificial color or flavor, etc.
If you look around the grocery stores in Canada, they tend to sell "healthy" junk foods.
For example, chocolate bars may be high fiber oat meal or granola bars, usually with hemp seeds or quinoa, etc.

They also tend to exercise more despite the cold climate.
Going for walk, bike ride, fitness gym, hiking, camping, etc... rather than eating junk food and watching TV.

Chart 1 Prevalence of obesity in adults aged 20 to 79, by sex: Canada, 2007 to 2009 and United States, 2007 to 2008
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
So it sounds like the RCMP officer personally disagreed with the judge's decision, and he will simply ignore the court ruling and keep handing out what could possibly be false accusation tickets.
It depends what "judge". There are district courts and then there is Supreme Court. The Supreme Court judge in the 1st link dismissed the claim. If the other judge (who supported the claim) was also a Supreme, then we have a problem.
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
According to the Government of Canada, obesity rate is far less in Canada than the US.

I also found that Canadians love healthy snacks, rather than simple junk food.
The trend might have broader/deeper reasons. One of them is that Canadian population is ~50% "visual minorities", could be more than 50% right now. (Sounds odd when something that is a majority is called a "minority", but I am not the one to correct official "politically correct language"). And I'm not talking latino or african, it's mostly Asia now. Try convincing somebody originally from China to even touch junk food.

Another reason is that Canada is scarcely populated, compared to the US. Other than Toronto, there are no cities with distances and crowds big enough to consume your time commuting, shopping etc to the point that you don't have time to think about "healthy". Less commuting also means less driving. Canadian cities are less car-friendly than in the US. I wouldn't say they are more "pedestrian-friendly" or "bicycle-friendly" than many US cities, - they are just less car-friendly. Roads are narrow, highways are rarely cutting through the city like in the US. Though, Canadian rural areas and distant suburbs are same pedestrian- and bike-unfriendly as US suburbs, it's all cars and pickups there.
 
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Ken M

Well-Known Member
The Canadian limits of 500W and 32kph pretty much make a compliant scooter and an ebike the same slow POS. I'm not suggesting allowing motorcycle like speeds of ebikes and low powered scooters but a human being averaged 53kph for 1 hour on an unassisted bike. Should be deem him "non-compliant" or use some common sense and realize the average riders on road bike will hit speeds in excess of 32kph.

I understand that Canadian legislators tend to be on the lower side of the intellect scale but even they must realize that according to their law if I'm on an ebike coasting down a long hill in excess of 32kph and not pedaling I should be ticketed.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
I understand that Canadian legislators tend to be on the lower side of the intellect scale but even they must realize that according to their law if I'm on an ebike coasting down a long hill in excess of 32kph and not pedaling I should be ticketed.
Not that I'm defending Canadian legislators, but that's an incorrect interpretation of the law.

(the motor) is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground.


Feel free to take all the free hill energy you want. I always do :)
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Not that I'm defending Canadian legislators, but that's an incorrect interpretation of the law.

(the motor) is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground.


Feel free to take all the free hill energy you want. I always do :)
The article says it happened in Greater Victoria, which is in British Columbia.

According to the British Columbia regulations (on page 7), I think that e-scooter is classified as Class 2.

Class 1
32km/h, no throttle, 500W limit

Class 2
32km/h with throttle

Class 3
45km/h, no throttle
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Not that I'm defending Canadian legislators, but that's an incorrect interpretation of the law.

(the motor) is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground.


Feel free to take all the free hill energy you want. I always do :)

Earlier in this tread someone stated that you could be ticket if on an ebike going over 32kph and not pedaling. I was just bringing to light that that makes no sense.

I am almost certain that the 32kph assist limit that seems so widely utilized around the world in limiting assist via legislation originated from the mid drive manufacturers because they know that allowance for higher assist speeds shift the competitive landscape to hub drives. There were no safety studies. Someone has ridden a unassisted bike for 1 hour averaging over 53kph so limiting assist to 32kph is meritless. It does not limit the speed of the ebike so apply speed limits to path just like we apply speed limits to automobiles (some of which can now exceed 300mph.