When you need insurance for electric scooters

Electric bicycles that power along without pedals are motorcycles and they will be stopped and ticketed if the rider has no insurance or registration, says a top Capital Regional District traffic cop.

Staff Sgt. Ron Cronk, head of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit, said B.C. regulations are clear. An electric bicycle with a motor that keeps going when the rider isn’t pedalling is a limited-speed motorcycle and requires licence, registration and insurance.

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“It’s not subtle, it’s pretty clear,” said Cronk in an interview. “And it’s pretty easy to see when they are coasting their e-bike uphill without pedalling and they are still maintaining speed.”

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation, however, has issued a statement to say it will be examining legislation and regulations to deal with emerging technologies.

Also, at least one Victoria resident was stopped while riding his e-scooter and handed a ticket for not having registration or insurance and successfully disputed it.

A provincial court judge tossed out the ticket because ICBC offers no policies for what are defined as motor-assisted cycles.

In B.C., a motor-assisted cycle must be electric and its power cannot exceed 500 watts. It can’t be capable of speeds greater than 32 kilometres an hour on flat ground without pedalling.

Also, the motor must disengage when the operator stops pedalling, releases the accelerator or applies the brake.

“It’s not a this or that,” Cronk said. “The motor is supposed to help you when you pedal and, if you stop pedalling, the motor shouldn’t help you anymore.”

He said if the criteria isn’t met the machine becomes a limited-speed motorcycle and they must be registered, licensed and insured as a motor vehicle.

B.C. motor vehicle regulations specify limited-speed motorcycles, such as mopeds or scooters, must have a gasoline engine no greater than 50 cc or an electric motor no greater 1,500 watts. Their maximum speed must be 70 km/h on level ground.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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