Electric bicycles are allowed in eight provinces of Canada. In all eight provinces, electric bicycles are limited to a power of 500 watts and cannot travel at a speed of more than 32 km/h (20 mph) on motor power alone on level ground. In Alberta, up until July 1, 2009, the limits were 750 watts and 35 km/h (22 mph), but now conform to federal legislation. Age restrictions vary across Canada. All require an approved helmet. The rules may or may not require a lockout to prevent the use of power when the rider is not pedaling. Some versions (for example, if they can operate without pedaling) of electric bicycles require a driver's license in some provinces and have age restrictions. Car license and liability insurance are not required. They are typically considered vehicles (e.g., motorcycles and pedal bicycles) and thus the same rules of the road apply to conventional bicycles. In some cases, regulatory requirements have been complicated by lobbying in regard to the Segway PT.
Bicycles with gasoline engines or other fuels are regulated differently than electric bicycles. They are classified as motorcycles regardless of engine output power and maximum attainable speed.
Note that in Canada, the term "power-assisted bicycle" is the technical term for an electric bicycle and "power-assisted" is used in the Canadian Federal Legislation, but is carefully defined as applying only to electric motor-driven, and specifically excludes internal combustion engines (though this is not the case in the United States).
Since 2000, the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations of Canada (MVSR) have defined Power-Assisted Bicycles (PAB) as a separate category that does not require a license for operation. Currently, a PAB is defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with a handlebar and operable pedals, with an attached electric motor of 500 watts or less and a maximum speed of 32 km/h from the motor on level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed manufacturer's label in a conspicuous location stating that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle as per the regulatory requirements applicable at the time of manufacture. All power-assisted bicycles must use an electric motor for auxiliary propulsion.
Power-assisted bicycles can be freely imported and exported within Canada without the same restrictions imposed on cars or mopeds. According to federal law, the use of power-assisted bicycles may be prohibited by local municipalities on certain roads, lanes, trails, or paths.
PAB bicycles are permitted on the Capital Pathway network of the National Capital Commission (NCC), but scooter-style PABs are prohibited. All PABs (bicycles and scooters) are allowed on the designated bicycle lanes of the NCC. On the natural trails of Gatineau Park, any road bicycles are prohibited.
Provincial Usage Requirements
Alberta defines electric bicycles as "power-assisted bicycles" and aligns with the federal requirements of a “power-assisted bicycle” definition in MVSR CRC, c 1038 s. 2. The motor power must not exceed 500 watts (0.671 horsepower), and electric bicycles cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph). Fully operable pedals are required. No driver's license, insurance, or vehicle registration is needed. Operators must be at least 12 years old. All operators must wear a motorcycle helmet meeting the standards set in AR 122/2009 s 112 (2). A passenger is only allowed if the electric bicycle is equipped with a seat designed for this passenger.
An electric bicycle is defined as a “motor-assisted cycle” (MAC) in British Columbia, which is different from electric mopeds and scooters that are “limited-speed motorcycles.” Motor-assisted cycles must: have an electric motor of no more than 500 watts; have fully functioning pedals; not be capable of propelling the device at a speed greater than 32 km/h [19.9 mph]. The motor must disengage when (a) the operator stops pedaling, (b) the throttle controller is released, OR (c) a brake is applied. Driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance are not required. The rider must be at least 16 years old, and must wear a bicycle helmet.
Electric bicycles in British Columbia must comply with all standards set forth in the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation, B.C. Reg 151/2002.
Ontario is one of the last provinces in Canada to move towards the legalization of power-assisted bicycles (PAB) for road use, although they were defined at the federal level and legalized in Canada since the beginning of 2001. In November 2005, "Bill 169" received royal assent, allowing the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to place any vehicle on the road. On October 4, 2006, Ontario's Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield announced a pilot project allowing PABs that meet federal standards to operate on the roads. PAB riders must adhere to the rules and regulations of regular bicycles, wear an approved bicycle helmet, and be at least 16 years old. There remain a number of legal considerations for any bicycle use in Ontario.
On October 5, 2009, the Government of Ontario enacted laws regulating the use of electric bicycles in the province. Electric bicycles, which can reach a speed of up to 32 kilometers per hour, can travel on the road with cars, pedestrians, and other vehicles throughout the province. The new rules limit the maximum weight of an electric bicycle to 120 kilograms, require a maximum braking distance of nine meters, and prohibit any motor modifications to the bicycle that could create a speed of more than 32 kilometers per hour. Additionally, riders must be at least 16 years old, wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets, and adhere to the same road rules as bicyclists. Municipal legislation also explicitly allows the restriction of electronic bicycles on streets, bike lanes, and trails, as well as limiting the use of certain types of electronic bicycles (e.g., prohibiting the use of scooter-style electric bicycles on bike lanes). Electric bicycles are not allowed on highways, the 400-series highways, and other places where bicycles are prohibited. Riding an electric bicycle under the age of 16 or on an electric bicycle without an approved helmet are new offenses in legislation, carrying fines of between $60 to $500. Electric bicycle drivers are subject to the same fines as other cyclists for all other traffic offenses.
Electric bicycles are allowed in Manitoba under certain conditions. The bicycle must not be constructed so that more than three wheels touch the ground, the engine must cease to provide propelling force if the bicycle's speed for any reason exceeds 32 km/h, the engine must be less than 500W, it must have operable pedals, if it is throttle-activated, the engine immediately ceases to provide propelling force to the vehicle when the rider activates the brake, and if the rider engages it by applying muscle power to the pedals, the engine immediately ceases to provide propelling force to the vehicle when the rider ceases to apply muscle power. The bicycle must also have a mechanism to turn the electric motor on and off that can be operated by the rider, and if the vehicle has a throttle, separate from the throttle, or a mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged until the vehicle is traveling at a speed of 3 km/h or more. You must also be at least 14 years old to operate an electric bicycle. All other Manitoba laws concerning bicycle riding also apply.
For it to be usable on the road, it needs wheel rims more than 9 inches, a headlight for nighttime, and a seat at a height of no less than 27 inches from the ground.
New Brunswick's policy regarding motor-driven cycles and electric bicycles
The Registrar permits the registration of a motor-driven cycle if it complies with Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) as a limited-speed motorcycle or scooter, as is done with gasoline-powered bicycles. If the vehicle was manufactured after 1988, it will have a compliance label affirming that it meets these standards. All requirements applicable to motorcycle operators will apply to the operator.
If the vehicle can be human-powered and has an engine of 500W or less, and the engine cannot assist when the vehicle is moving at a speed of more than 32 km/h, then it may be considered a bicycle, and all requirements applicable to bicyclists apply.
It is important to note that if the vehicle has an electric motor of more than 500W and is capable of propelling it at a speed of more than 32 km/h, and it does not have a CMVSS compliance label, it cannot be registered unless the owner can prove, by having the vehicle certified by an engineer, that it is safe for operation on NB highways. Additionally, not all vehicles are suitable for operation on NB highways, and it may turn out that the vehicle in question may not be a motorcycle or bicycle and cannot be operated on the highway at all.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Electric bicycles must be equipped with a red rear lamp, a reflector, and a white front lamp. Riders over the age of 18 do not require a license or registration, but riders aged 14 to 17 require official permission to operate a scooter, electric bicycle, or moped.
In Nova Scotia, power-assisted bicycles are treated similarly to standard pedal bicycles. The Motor Vehicle Act of Nova Scotia defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with an electric motor of 500 watts or less, with two wheels (one of which is at least 350 mm) or four wheels (two of which are at least 350 mm). On Nova Scotia roads, PABs are allowed provided that you wear an approved bicycle helmet with the chin strap securely fastened. They are not required to meet the conditions defined in the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations for motorcycles (they are not classified as "motor vehicles"), but they must comply with federal regulations defining power-assisted bicycles.
Prince Edward Island
They are treated as mopeds and will need to undergo an inspection as a moped.
In Quebec, power-assisted bicycles are often classified similarly to standard pedal bicycles. They are not required to meet the conditions defined in the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (they are not classified as "motor vehicles"), but they must comply with federal regulations defining power-assisted bicycles. The Highway Safety Code of Quebec defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle (2 or 3 wheels in contact with the ground) with an electric motor of a maximum power of 500W and a maximum speed of 32 km/h, on which a compliance label is permanently affixed by the manufacturer. In Quebec province, PABs are allowed on the roads, but riders must be 14 years of age or older, and if under 18, they must have a moped or scooter license.
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Power-assisted bicycles are categorized into two in Saskatchewan. A power-assisted bicycle is a two- or three-wheeled bicycle wherein both pedals and motor are used simultaneously. In a power cycle, either the pedals and motor or just the motor are used. Both must have motors of 500 watts or less and cannot exceed 32 km/h (20 mph), i.e., the motor cuts out at this speed or the cycle cannot attain this speed on level ground. A power cycle must conform to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) for a power-assisted bicycle. The power cycle requires at least a learner's driving license (class 7), and all other classes 1-5 may operate them. A power-assisted bicycle does not require a license. Helmets are mandatory for each. Under traffic laws, both are considered bicycles. Gasoline-powered bicycles or bicycles with an auxiliary motor are classified as motorcycles regardless of engine size or if using pedals and motor. Stickers identifying the bicycle's compliance with the Federal classification may be required for power cycles in some cities or municipalities.