You have just gotten back into cycling, and the new electric bicycle you purchased is begging to be ridden all over the place. Starting with your neighborhood, you follow friend’s recommendations for their favorite places. It seems quite possible to expand your local bike routes and go to other provinces, states and even countries. Why not make a vacation of being in the great outdoors on your e-bike. You can forge ahead with your family or a group of friends who are just as interested in biking as yourself.
For the most part, you can ride your e-bike almost anywhere that regular motor vehicles are permitted to drive. You may, however, encounter some restrictions when it comes to some parks, hiking trails, and heavily congested areas with higher traffic. Vancouver is pretty lax when it comes to electric bikes but if you’re going to be travelling with your new E-bike it would be best if you checked out the areas you are visiting before you go to become familiar with their local laws and rules. It could save you a lot of trouble in the long run if you make sure you can ride your electric bicycle as planned, before your trek.
If you are traveling through Canada, you need to know that 8 out of 10 provinces in Canada allow electric power-assisted bikes on their roads. Speed is limited to up to 32km/h. You are also required to follow regular rules of the road and must wear a helmet that has been approved.
Riding e-bikes in the United States has some similar restrictions. You must follow state vehicle codes on public streets on your low-speed electric bike. In most states helmets are obligatory and the minimum driving age (14 – 16 years old), varies with each state. About 30% of the states require a driver’s license and insurance. New York State has the toughest e-bike laws of all the states. They prohibit them on sidewalks, streets and highways because the riders weren’t obeying bike laws on the streets during dining hours when the cities are heavily congested. There are several bills being sponsored to try legalizing them. The United States Bureau of Land Management banned riding them on mountain trails, parks or paths, even if they are classified as electric mountain bikes. Each city and state differ a bit so doing some research is definitely in order before venturing to the U.S. with your e-bike.
As of October 1, 2015, the city of Taipei in Taiwan recently banned electric bikes on city sidewalks. The reasons cited were that their higher than regular bicycle speeds create a danger to pedestrians and those on standard bikes. It is the one rule for riders of power-assisted cycles that most of the countries in the world agree on.
In Hong Kong, China, economic issues created an e-bike ban in an unconventional way. They were worried that the increasing number of e-bike riders would demand safer bike paths and lanes as well as new ones. This costly endeavor was avoided by the government and it was decided all e-bikes must pass inspection, at the same time assuring none of them would do so.
The United Kingdom has seen increasing numbers of e-bike riders in the cities where they are hazardous to the pedestrian population. Their laws include being at least 14 years old to ride on public roads. They do, however, have a strict ban on “dongled” bikes. Those are bikes that have the hack removed that restricts the speed to 25km/h as required by law.
As far as most of the other European countries go, they have no lower age limit. Though rules and laws vary by different countries and areas within those countries, using common sense is a good start. We can all be safer everywhere by following rules of the road and wearing a safety helmet. Making wise choices is good everywhere you go.