"A new vehicle type has also emerged and is poised to enter the Ontario market - cargo e-bikes," says the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario, they mention in their recent call to the public to respond to changing e-bike regulations. It's too late to provide comments (sorry! I meant to post this earlier). But if you're interested you can read up on it here: Supporting Materials E-bike and Cargo E-bike MTO Proposals
(Image courtesy of Curbside Cycle.)
Cargo e-bikes, MTO lets us know, "are bicycles designed to carry significant amounts of cargo and can be potentially useful for commercial delivery purposes." This is not really earth-shattering for many people. Not only have non-electric assist cargo bikes existed for over a century, but the electric assist versions have been becoming more popular exponentially even in Ontario. Eric Kamphof of Curbside Cycle mentioned to me a couple years ago how most of the people looking at cargo bikes tended to be parents who normally did not ride bikes but were interested in the ability of cargo bikes to haul kids and supplies quickly and easily around town.
So while I applaud that the MTO is doing all this and it really does look like it'll be a big improvement, it's a bit funny how they're pretending that this is something they've just discovered. And also that this is only for commercial delivery. Luckily they specifically mention that e-bikes allow passengers so long as there are seats for them.
Cargo e-bike pilot
So MTO will be conducting a cargo e-bike multi-year pilot. I'm not sure what that means for existing cargo bikes. Most likely it won't mean a thing since people are already buying and using the bikes and nobody seems to be getting fines despite them being in a grey area of the law.
In the proposal all e-bikes will be allowed up to 500 watts, which I believe is higher than the previous. I can't recall but I believe it's currently 250 watts. Please fact-check me.
For the cargo e-bike multi-year pilot it will allow bikes up to 1.2 m wide and 4 m long. There will be no maximum weight and it will allow passengers on seats. These are huge bikes! We're talking up to the "RadBurro", which is far larger than what even a lot of commercial delivery will need.
Provincial compliance label
So the federal government is getting out of the way of regulating e-bikes and leaving it up to each individual province. The feds regulate all sorts of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, but it seems like they're washing their hands of e-bikes. So this means that manufacturers will now need to get labels for every province. I can imagine what will happen is that they will bother with the big provinces and ignore the small ones.
Overlap in the weight of cargo e-bikes and mopeds?
As part of the proposal, the MTO will be differentiating between moped-style electric bikes and electric assist bikes (the latter which require pedalling). As part of they "are recommending an allowable maximum weight of 65 kg for an e-bike this would eliminate overlap, and possible confusion, between e-bike weights and moped weights." But they are also proposing in the cargo e-bike pilot that there be no maximum weight. I think that's the right call, but I'm curious to know how they will square that with the 65 kg weight max for e-bike.
Overall, this is promising. I look forward to seeing a lot more of these in the province.