“The one big positive thing about E-Bikes and electric assist is that it gets people out riding. It gets people back into the sport that have been away from it for a while.”
Owner of Grindin’ Gears Bikes n’ Boards Jim Taylor has been operating in Lloydminster for the last four years and has seen the enthusiasm for electric bikes increase in the area.
“It’s growing and it’s being well accepted. What we are seeing is an increase in questions. People want to; just like anything else that’s new, the education piece, is what primarily we try to do. And teach people the difference, and show people the differences between and the capabilities of what an E-bike is.”
He says a consumer brand E-bike can cost anywhere from $18-2200, with the main category being about $3500 and the high-end versions starting at $10,000. He says the high-end ones are mountain bikes with power assist added.
“We’re talking about full carbon frames with 250 watt motors and the full bike weighs under 50 pounds, but can handle high speeds down hill; edurable style mountain biking. So it’s a lot of technology into a small package. And most of the time you won’t know it’s a powered bike until the guy passes you on the trail.”
Provincial insurer SGI is seeking feedback on e-scooters or e-bikes. In a release they state e-scooters at the moment are classified as unlicensed motor vehicles. Under The Traffic Safety Act, unlicensed vehicles are not permitted to be used on any public roads in Saskatchewan, with certain exceptions. They add, the Traffic Safety Act does not apply to the use of e-scooters on municipal sidewalks or pathways where municipalities can regulate them, or on private property.
Taylor notes their concerns as he looks to occurences in the larger cities with bikes that can reach speeds of 50 km/hr and as well, that Canadian transportation laws regulate e-bikes to 32 km/hr.
“I’ve heard of people that are jumping on e-bikes and then throttling through traffic. What’s happening there is a lack of education with the users of the bikes. And then it’s an abuse of what a bicycle is. So I agree with what they (SGI) are trying to do. They are trying to find a safety area where they can still encourage people to ride bikes, but do it the right way.”
Taylor says there is a huge increase in the sale of e-bikes and there are companies that are not following the Canadian transportation laws, so bodies like SGI will have a big job ahead of them. He adds there are companies reaching out to him to sell these bikes.
“Everyday, I get an email from an overseas company that wants to sell me direct consumer e-bikes, that don’t follow Canadian transportation laws, and those bikes are coming into Canada; they are coming into Saskatchewan and Alberta. People are buying them cheaper than they would from a retail store like mine, and then they are riding them crazy through the streets.”
Taylor adds some of the e-bikes can be modified so they can travel at road speeds approaching 60 km/hr and the riders are doing this without safety gear like pads and a helmet.
Taylor says the technological innovations are advancing faster than the law can keep pace.
“All of these motorized skateboards, they are getting here faster to consumers than the laws can keep up. Or that the laws even know about. Because, I can go buy an e-skateboard that can send kids at 30 km/hr ripping around town. Would I feel safe sending my own son on an e-skateboard? No. I don’t encourage that stuff. You have to educate before you let people ride these things.”
Taylor points out that in Alberta, it has been left up to individual municipalities to regulate e-bikes.
SGI is taking emailed submissions up to November 1st and will use these to inform government ahead of making any legislative recommendations.