Electric bikes in Vancouver have become an increasingly popular form of transportation for both commuting and recreation. To help keep riders, pedestrians, and other motorists safe Vancouver bike laws help you know when to ride, how to ride, and what safety equipment to use.
Here we’ll look at everything you need to know about rules for electric bikes in Vancouver, including licensing, best on-road practices, and more. Following electric bike rules will not only help keep you safe but also help you avoid fines and maintain your bike.
Do You Need a License to Operate Electric Bikes in Vancouver?
Vancouver bike laws do not require you to have a license. You also will not need a vehicle registration or insurance. The rules change only when you have an electric bike with a motor that is more powerful than 500 watts. At that point, the bike is considered a different classification and stricter rules apply.
Helmet Laws for Electric Bikes in Vancouver
According to Helmets.org, wearing a helmet has been shown to reduce the instances of head, neck, and face injuries by up to 50%. Statistics like this are part of why Vancouver ebike laws include a helmet ordinance that requires both adults and children on bikes to wear a helmet whenever in a public space. Vancouver scooter riders, skateboarders, and roller skaters must abide by the same rules as well.
Additional gear, including gloves, knee pads, goggles, and this armour jacket offer even more protection. While these other items are not legally required, they can help you avoid dangerous and painful injuries like road rash.
Stay Clear of Sidewalks when Riding Electric Bikes in Vancouver
Current Canadian law does not allow traditional or electric bikes on sidewalks. It can even result in a fine if you are caught riding on the sidewalk. While this law may seem to have pedestrians in mind, it is actually safer for riders too.
Studies have shown that when bike riders follow the rules of the road, they are safer there than on a sidewalk. On the road, you have fewer chances for collision with pedestrians, cars turning, and at intersections.
Note: Persons under the age of 14 are allowed to ride on the sidewalk with their bikes, but must be 16 to operate an ebike in Vancouver. This effectively means no one can operate an ebike on a sidewalk but a child could, technically, ride a traditional bike on the sidewalk.
Electric Bike Rules for Traffic
According to the City of Vancouver, a vehicle is defined as “any device capable of being ridden on a highway…” This includes bikes. Bikes, both traditional and electric, are required to follow the same rules as other vehicles on the road. In particular, Vancouver ebike riders should ride with traffic, not against it.
If there is a bike path running alongside a road, you can choose to ride there or on the road. You are not automatically excluded from riding on the road when there is a bike path.
Riding Side by Side
Riding with a friend? Bicyclists are able to ride side by side but only two deep. If you are riding with more people and want to ride next to each other, choose a dedicated bike path that is wide enough to accommodate your group.
Choosing Your Lane for Electric Bikes in Vancouver
Exactly where you ride your bike on the road will depend on several factors including how fast you are going, how many lanes there are, and the amount of traffic.
If you are able to keep up with the speed of traffic, then use the middle lane. Going slower? Stay as far to the right as possible. Exceptions to this are when you are turning, you are on a one-way street, and when you are going around another vehicle. You can choose to ride on the right shoulder, but this is only required when on freeways and other limited-access roads.
When to Ride the Middle of the Lane
While you should typically stay as far to the right as possible, sometimes this is not safe. For example, if the lane is not wide enough to allow space for you and another vehicle. Similarly, if the shoulder has obstructions or other hazards, you should opt for the center of the right lane. This ensures you are visible to cars behind you and that other vehicles will not try to ride next to you.
If you find yourself on a busy 2-lane road with more than 5 vehicles behind you, you should pull off the road when you are able to do so. This is the rule for any slow-moving vehicle.
If you choose, you can walk your bike across an intersection. Using a crosswalk and walking your bike can minimize danger at busy intersections.
Riding Your Ebike in Vancouver Safely at Night
To ride safely at night, Vancouver bike laws require you to have a white light at the front of your bike and a red reflector at the rear of your bike. Fortunately, bikes like the Stromer ST1 Sport come with front and rear lights already installed. You can also purchase additional safety lights that can make night riding safer and more fun.
Keep Your Vancouver Ebike in Good Working Order
Vancouver bike laws require you to keep your brakes in good working condition. Specifically, they should be capable of allowing your bike to skid to a stop on dry pavement. Wet conditions may compromise the effectiveness of brakes so this is the bare minimum your bike should be able to handle.
To stay safe and in compliance, you should check your brakes regularly and know what signs of wear to look for. Signs of wear will vary depending on your type of brake. There are several kinds including disc brakes, hydraulic brakes, and mechanical brakes. Check your user guide or consult with a trusted repair shop to address wear and tear.
Quick Tips for Riding Your Ebike in Vancouver
When riding electric bikes in Vancouver, consider these other quick safety tips.
Wear Bright Colors
Bright colours help reinforce the job your safety lights do. This can be especially helpful during times of the day when light is dim but not dark enough for your headlight to be effective.
Ride in a Steady Line
When on the road, it is not the time to get creative with your riding style. Ride in a steady line to avoid confusing or distracting other motorists.
Stay Visible and Alert
Use hand signals to indicate turns and make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. While motorists should be alert and looking for cyclists, this is not always the case, and making a point of looking directly at drivers can help avoid accidents.
Avoid Carrying Items in Your Hands
Vancouver ebike laws require riders to have at least one hand on their handlebars at all times. You can carry something in your arms, but only if you can hold it with one hand. It is, however, best to avoid this altogether. Instead, consider getting a basket or pannier bag which will let you transport items on your bike hands-free.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
Proper tire inflation will help optimize your contact with the road. This reduces the chances of you blowing out a tire and improves speed and performance.
Electric Bikes in Vancouver Final Thoughts
Vancouver scooter and electric bike riders can stay safe and in compliance with local laws with a few simple, common-sense measures. Remember to maintain your vehicle, wear a helmet, and treat riding on the road similarly to how you drive a car. Stay safe out there on your ebike!
Are you looking to step into the world of electric bikes? Epic Cycles has an impressive collection of e-bikes from which you pick. Reach out to us to shop today.
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