In Canada, a motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle that contains an internal combustion engine, and this has caused a great debate on the use of e-bikes here in Windsor.
Recently, Windsor’s transportation committee has decided to ban e-bikes from use on sidewalks and city trails until city council can make a decision on the matter next month. This comes after many complaints from citizens regarding issues such as e-bikes being too fast and too big for the sidewalk.
While it has been said that e-bikes are dangerous and that they are a nuisance by many people, how many are looking at positive aspects of them or comparatively by bikes and low speed motorcycles?
The case has been made that these individuals do not obey the rules of the road; that they go through stop signs or ride on the sidewalk. However, this isn’t the sole problem of e-bikes. Regular pedal bicycles often go through stop signs and ride on the sidewalk which in Windsor is forbidden by bylaw.
The argument has been made that since this vehicle requires no licensing or insurance it puts drivers on the road at risk if a collision occurs. Look at this logically. If a bicycle, which in Windsor is supposed to only be on the road, hits a car and causes it damage, there is no insurance to cover it as a pedal bicycle need not be insured. To take this a step further, it is unlikely that an e-bike or a bicycle can cause any serious damage to a car if there is a collision.
Many complain that these machines are too quiet to hear. Since blind people cannot drive, this seems like a flawed argument as anyone using the road should be watching it instead of listening to it. The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are also quiet as they are electric cars. Are we to block the way of cheap green energy just because a vehicle can’t be heard?
Now it is true that the DUI bunch buy these vehicles to get around their loss of licence and then use them to cart cases of beer around. But let’s face it, Windsor is an automotive city. We have a collective belief that the car is the only good way to get around. On the flip side, we have the highest unemployment rate in the country as well.
If there is a cheap option for people to make their daily commute on without having to worry about paying for gas, insurance and parking should they not be allowed to have it? For that matter, does this argument only apply to the scooter style of e-bike? It is possible to convert any standard pedal bicycle to an e-bike with a brushless hub motor kit. There are a few people in Windsor that have done this with gas engines which, since they are uninsurable, can garner a $5,000 fine if a police officer cares to stop such a person.
Yes there are bad e-bike drivers, but do we really want to start a war against an economical mode of transportation that won’t leave you sweaty when you arrive at your destination? If you want to start your own path you have to let your tires hold down the grass.
a Windsorite who doesn’t own an e-bike