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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Attended the general meeting for the Toronto Cyclists Union. One of the things that came up was the organization's stand on ebikes, which they had recently sent out a survey form about.

For those of you you haven't heard about this, ebikes are fairly new. They are smaller-sized scooters with a set of pedals, and there's been a really push among the companies that make them and the people that use them to have them classified as bicycles so they can use bike lanes and bike paths. A typical one is shown below:

As you can see, they do have a little set of pedals, and the idea is that people pedal them on the flat and use the electric motor on hills. And they are speed-limited to something like 30 kph. And they are not expensive and don't require licences so their supporter say they are more likely to get people out of cars and just zip around the city on errands.

And yet... they just don't look like bikes. AT ALL. And every time I've seen one in Toronto it's always being used as a scooter, not a bike (including once ON THE SIDEWALK). I'm just really uncomfortable with letting them use the bike lanes, and especially the bike paths. It's been such a struggle to get bikes taken seriously in this city that now that it's finally started to happen something in me rebels at the thought of letting what is really a motorized vehicle share what space we've managed to carve out.

The Bike Union poll is going pretty heavily against them, I guess we'll have to see how it shakes out.

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Not all e-bikes are created equal. The one in your picture is a scooter and, due to its heftiness, might be an increased hazard to regular bikers, but there are many other e-bikes that one can barely distinguish from regular bikes, such as this type:

On the other hand, some of the bikes out there are just as if not more dangerous than scooters:

And, as M pointed out, by preventing e-bikes from sharing the bike lane, aren't we discriminating against big-boned or elderly people, which would best make the transition from car to bike, via e-bike and would be safer riding in the bike lane on a scooter/e-bike, instead of normal car traffic with all the yahoos, trucks, buses and hummers out there?

I know, I know, but I just think that if it doesn't look like a bicycle, it shouldn't be in the bike lane (this allows for power-assisted bikes).

The bike I reference is what all the controversy is about. It's clearly a scooter and I've only ever seen it used as a scooter. Trying to classify it as a bike is the manufacturers trying to get around licensing laws.

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