E-Bike and E-Scooter Laws: Public Roadways vs. Private Property

by Daniel D April 19, 2023 4 min read

E-bikes and e-scooters have been skyrocketing in popularity over the past few years. With many more electric bikes and scooters on the road, new laws and regulations are being developed to make sure everyone stays safe on the road. 

In Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation has set up a 5-year pilot program that allows electric bikes and scooters on Ontario public roads. Municipalities, however, have been allowed to set their own specific regulations.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about what is legally classified as an e-scooter and e-bike, where these bikes and scooters can be driven in Ontario, and what the rules are for drivers while on the road.

How does the government legally define e-bikes and e-scooters?

Despite the recent burst of popularity, e-bikes were first defined by the federal government in 2000, when they were known as “Power Assisted Bicycles” or “PABs”. Here’s what legally classifies as an e-bike according to Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

An e-bike in Canada must have:

  • An electric motor of no more than 500 watts.
  • A maximum speed of 32 km/h.
  • A maximum weight of 120 kg or 265 lbs.
  • Steering handlebars.
  • Working brakes.
  • A permanent manufacturer’s label that states in both English and French that your e-bike meets the federal government’s definition of a PAB.

E-scooters have a more recent legal definition with the start of Ontario’s 5-year pilot program in 2020. While there are many e-scooters out on the market right now and several great models to choose from, including many excellent scooters from Segway in Canada, there are certain things every e-scooter must have in Ontario to be allowed on public roadways.

An e-scooter in Ontario must have the following:

  • A maximum speed of 24 km/h.
  • A maximum weight of 45 kg or 99 lbs.
  • A maximum power output of 500 watts.
  • Two wheels with a maximum wheel diameter of 17 inches.
  • A platform to stand on.
  • Working brakes.
  • A bell or horn.
  • A white light at the front of the scooter, a red one at the back, and reflective material on the sides.
  • No seat, pedals, or basket.

Our E-Bikes and E-Scooters and Where They Can Be Driven

With these regulations, it means that many electric scooters and bikes with higher speeds and better power output are considered too powerful to drive on public roads. The good news is that even for these models, drivers can still use them on private property. Let’s look at some of the most popular electric scooter and bike models and whether they fit these requirements.

In Canada, Segway is a very popular brand of electric scooters. Many of Segway’s Ninebot models reach speeds of 30km/h and above. However, some models, like the Ninebot P100S Kickscooter, have various speed modes, allowing riders to set their top speed within the requirements. 

Other models with app compatibility, like the Ninebot GT1 electric scooter, allow you to change your top speed on the Segway-Ninebot App. Segways in Canada are thus a great option.

Blutron is another maker of excellent electric scooters. What makes Blutron a good option for Ontarians is their models’ “Custom Mode” that allows riders to customize and set their desired maximum speed and acceleration. Models such as the Blutron One S40 and the Blutron One Plus make great options for the road.

Aventon is one of the best electric bike manufacturers on the market. With a huge range of capabilities across models, Aventon has electric bikes that work for every person’s needs. For example, the Aventon Solera S7 has a top speed of 32 km/h and a 350 W motor, making it perfectly fit within the limits of Ontario regulations. Other bikes that meet these requirements are the Aventon Sinch and the Aventon Pace.

Where can you drive your e-bike or e-scooter?

Electric bikes and scooters can now be driven in various ways on many different roads. Here are all the places you can drive an e-bike or e-scooter:

  • Public roadway (in the vehicle lane)
  • Public roadway (in the bicycle lane)
  • Regional roads with a posted speed limit of 60 km/h or below

Although this list is short, it covers the majority of roads in Ontario that an e-bike or e-scooter rider would want to travel on. It’s important to also note that restrictions on private roads vary, so they haven’t been listed here or in the bullet points below.

Where can’t you drive your e-bike or e-scooter?

There are a number of places where riders cannot operate their electric bikes or scooters. These include:

  • Sidewalks
  • 400-series or major provincial highways
  • Municipal roads that restrict bikes
  • Bike paths/trails
  • Multi-use paths and trails
  • Recreational parks

Most of these restrictions were put into place to ensure pedestrians who move through certain spaces like sidewalks and trails at a much slower pace are protected. Restrictions for bike paths and parks are similar, as e-bikes and e-scooters are more powerful and faster in those spaces than regular bikes and scooters.

It’s also important to note that for Torontonians, electric scooters are actually prohibited on all public streets in Toronto. However, with progress from pilot programs in other areas of Canada, these restrictions will likely change.

Operator Requirements

There are a few more requirements for operating an electric bike or scooter that riders need to know.

For example, electric bike and scooter operators must:

  • Be 16 or over.
  • Wear a helmet if under 18.
  • Be the only person on the bike or scooter while it is operating.
  • Not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Not be carrying cargo.
  • Not be operating the bike or scooter for commercial use.

In addition, you don’t need a driver’s license or insurance to use an electric bike or scooter, which means that anyone can operate one as long as they adhere to these requirements.

There are many fantastic ways to get around, and electric bikes and scooters offer a perfect way to navigate the road safely, quickly, and easily. Though there are some restrictions on where riders can and cannot go, there are great models from Aventron, Blutron, and Segway in Canada that make riding anywhere exciting. 

For electric bike and scooter users, knowing what they can and can’t do is important. When knowledgeable about these laws and regulations, riders don’t have to stress and can fully enjoy their experience operating an e-bike or e-scooter.

For more information about electric bikes and scooters, contact us here.