Electric Bicycles: The Rules of the Road

Legal News

You’ve probably noticed there are more electric bicycles on Quebec roads these days. Last year, Montreal’s Bixi self-serve bicycle stations began offering electric bikes. This year, the transportation company Uber jumped on board and is making its own electric bikes available. But did you know that specific rules apply to electric bicycles?

What is an “electric bicycle”?

It’s a bike with an electric motor. When the motor is off, the cyclist must pedal, like on an ordinary bike. When the motor is on, it gives the cyclist a boost. The maximum power for an electric bicycle motor is 500W, and the maximum speed for an electric bike is 32km/h.

Electric bicycles are not the same as motorized vehicles like electric motor scooters. These have more powerful motors and higher maximum speeds. Other rules apply to such vehicles.

Also, bicycles with gas engines are not allowed on Quebec roads.

Same rules as for ordinary bikes…plus a few extra

Most rules for ordinary bicycles also apply to electric bikes. For example, you can’t ride with earphones or with hands-free cell phone devices.

But a few extra rules apply to electric bikes, for example:

  • You must wear a helmet when riding an electric bike, even though you don’t have to when riding an ordinary bike.
  • Cyclists under the age of 18 require a class 6D licence (scooter licence) to ride an electric bike.

If you break these rules the fine is $60 to $100.

Where can you ride?

Electric bikes are usually permitted on bike paths. But you must be very careful because most other cyclists won’t be going at your speed. You can never put the security of others in danger!