Electric Scooters: The Rules of the road
Electric scooters, or e-scooters, are becoming more popular as a convenient and eco-friendly way of getting around the city. However, not all e-scooters are legal to use on public roads and sidewalks in Ontario. In this blog post, we will explain the difference between e-scooters that are legally e-bikes and those that are not, and what are the rules and regulations for riding them in Ottawa.
What are e-scooters that are legally e-bikes?
E-scooters that are legally e-bikes are electric scooters that meet the same requirements as power-assisted bicycles (PABs) under the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and the provincial Highway Traffic Act. These requirements include:
- Having steering handlebars, working pedals, and an electric motor not exceeding 500 watts
- Having a maximum speed of 32 km/h and a maximum weight of 120 kg
- Having a label from the manufacturer stating that the e-scooter conforms to the federal definition of a PAB
- Having an efficient brake system that can stop the e-scooter within 9 metres from the point of brake application
E-scooters that are legally e-bikes are allowed to operate on most roads and highways where conventional bicycles are permitted, with some exceptions. They are also subject to the same rules and regulations as regular cyclists, such as wearing a helmet, obeying traffic signals, and using lights and reflectors at night.
What are e-scooters that are not legally e-bikes?
E-scooters that are not legally e-bikes are electric scooters that do not meet the requirements of PABs, such as those that have:
- No pedals
- A higher wattage, speed, or weight than the limits for PABs
- A modified motor or battery to increase the power or speed of the e-scooter
E-scooters that are not legally e-bikes are considered motor vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, and therefore require a licence, registration, insurance, and a licence plate to operate on public roads. However, most e-scooters that are not legally e-bikes do not meet the safety standards for motor vehicles, and therefore cannot be licensed or registered in Ontario. This means that they are illegal to ride on any public road or sidewalk in the province.
What are the rules for riding e-scooters in Ottawa?
To ride an e-scooter in Ottawa, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Wear a helmet if you are under 18 years old
- Stand at all times while riding
- Ride on the right side of the road or in the bike lane, and follow the same rules of the road as cyclists
- Yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing them
You are not allowed to:
- Carry passengers or cargo
- Ride on sidewalks, multi-use pathways, or in parks
- Ride on controlled-access highways or roads where bicycles are banned
- Ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs
The City of Ottawa has set a maximum speed limit of 32 km/h for e-scooters on its streets. The rental companies are required to limit the speed of their e-scooters electronically. If you exceed the speed limit, you may face a fine of up to $1,000.
E-scooters are a fun and convenient way of travelling around the city, but they also come with rules and responsibilities. Before you hop on an e-scooter, make sure you know the difference between e-scooters that are legally e-bikes and those that are not, and what are the rules and regulations for riding them in Ottawa. By following the law and being courteous to other road users, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable e-scooter experience.