Rules, Regulations and Safety Standards for E-bikes in Canada and USA
Sep 20, 2022
E-bikes are experiencing a boost in popularity, with a Deloitte study placing them as the most preferred electric vehicle. If you've been thinking of buying an electric vehicle, or are waiting to get yours out on the road - you should be aware of the rules and regulations in place.
It is worth noting that the rules for e-bikes vary from place to place. Interestingly, the definition of an e-bike also varies from one place to another. You need to be aware of what's allowed and what isn't when it comes to taking your two-wheeler out on the road.
Let's first take a look at the scenario of e-bikes in the USA, before moving on to Canada.
Rules and Regulations for E-Bikes in the USA
While you can get an e-bike outfit that goes with your personality, in the USA, e-bikes are put in the same category as bicycles. They are regulated under the Consumer Product Safety Act. They have been put into a '3-class' system, which is applicable for up to 750-watt appliances.
28 states have adopted the Consumer Product Safety Act, and legislation remains a work in progress in the other states. Let's now take a look at the 3 classes of electric bikes that are based on speed.
These bicycles have an electric motor (up to 750W) which assists the rider up to speeds of 20 mph. The motor will stop once the bike reaches 20 mph, and a throttle is not allowed.
The same regulations apply as class 1, the only difference being that a throttle is allowed for class 2 vehicles.
In class 3 e-bikes, a throttle is allowed up to 20 mph, and will turn off once the bike reaches that speed. The motor will only assist the vehicle when the pedals are in use, and will turn off once the bike reaches a speed of 28 mph.
There exists a class 4 of motor vehicles, which consists of motorcycles and mopeds - as well as e-bikes with a motor of 1000W and above. However, most states in the USA would consider such an e-bike an electric moped. And in such a case, you would require a license and registration to drive an e-bike that has a motor of over 1000W.
Do You Need a License to Ride an E-bike in America?
If you're riding an e-bike that is classified in class 1 or class 2, then you won't need a license to ride. However, some states require a license in case you have a class 3 e-bike. Here are the states that you'll need to have a license for:
The only state in which you'll need to be over 18 to ride an e-bike in the USA is Ohio. However, you must be at least over 14 to ride everywhere in the country.
In addition, most states will also require you to wear a helmet compulsorily. For safety purposes, you should always ride with a helmet of sufficient quality to prevent injuries in case of an accident.
Rules and Regulations for Riding an E-Bike in Canada
In 2001, the situation surrounding e-bikes was addressed by the Canadian government as part of Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. Different provinces have defined the characteristics of an e-bike themselves after 2021. Prior to that, the regulations had defined electric bicycles as "power assisted bicycles" uniformly.
For the most part, electric bicycles must have two main characteristics - attached pedals and a motor of 500 watts or less. And secondly, their speed from the motor is limited to 20 mph on level ground.
In contrast to America, motors of 750-1000W are not considered street legal in Canada. The 3-class system is followed in Canada as well, but the only difference is that the motor is limited to 500W.
You can ride your e-bike in most parks in Canada, based on the restrictions that they have individually. However, most class 2 and 3 vehicles are only allowed on mountain trails or specialised roads that are built for bicycles.
Is a License Needed to Operate An E-Bike in Canada?
The only province that requires you to have a license to ride an e-bike is Quebec. Here, people between the ages of 14 and 17 need to obtain a 6D license in order to ride a moped or a motorised scooter.
Is There a Minimum Age to Ride an E-Bike in Canada?
Like the US, there are certain age limits that riders need to be aware of when riding in the open. In Alberta, riders need to be over 12 years old. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec, one must be over 14, and in Prince Edward Island, Ontario and British Columbia, riders must be 16 years old at least.
Do know that provinces not mentioned above don't have any set age limit for e-bikes.
In all parts of Canada, it is compulsory that you wear a helmet. The helmet must be safely fit on the wearer's head, whenever they are riding.
Safety Tips for E-Bikes
Whenever you're riding your e-bike outdoors, your safety is always the priority. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure that you're keeping yourself safe while riding:
- Ensure your bell or horn is working so that you can alert other cars to your presence.
- Keep your eyes on the road, and avoid using your phone while mounted.
- Don't use earphones while riding since it's important to keep your ears open on the road as well.
- Consider using knee pads or elbow pads if you're riding on rough terrain like a mountain trail.
Now, e-bike wattage won't be a big issue in the USA. But, if you're in Canada, you need to be watchful so that you're under the 500W limit.
No matter where you are, ensure you're adhering to the safety practices, always to keep yourself and your fellow riders safe.