E-bikes banned from Martin Goodman Trail
A sign that went up quietly last week prohibits electric bikes from using the Martin Goodman Trail.
Perched at the entrance near Bathurst St. and Queens Quay W., the sign is raising the ire of electric bike (or e-bike) users.
The ban is “inconsistent” with the shift to greener ways of travel, said Lock Hughes, treasurer of the Toronto Electric Riders Association, which represents users of electric two-wheelers.
He added that the ban on “motor power assisted bikes” is vague and can refer to anything from an e-bike to a scooter or Segway, which are all different sizes and speeds. E-bikes generally resemble conventional bicycles but with a small motor.
A city bylaw restricts the use of bike paths to bicycles, defined as vehicles operating solely on “muscular power,” Lukasz Pawlowski of Transportation Services said, adding staff are in discussions to rework the term.
“Right now, the definition of a bike is very strict so there’s no exceptions made for a bike like an e-bike,” he said.
When the bylaw came into place several years ago, people weren’t using electric two-wheelers, Pawlowski said. “It requires a more nuanced approach.”
Provincially, e-bikes are governed by the same rules as conventional bicycles. However, cities can pass bylaws limiting their use on bike paths and trails under their jurisdiction.
On Tuesday, a dozen cyclists rode past the Martin Goodman Trail sign without noticing it. They all said they’ve seen e-bikes and other motorized vehicles on the trail.
Andrew Le, who takes the trail about four times a week, said he’s happy with the ban. He’s had a few “close calls” with e-bikes.
“They’re faster so there’s just more weaving through traffic,” he said. “If you get hit by one, it’s no fun.”
Cameron Fitzgerald has “no problem” with e-bikes, which he has trouble distinguishing from conventional bikes.
For him, the city should focus on regulating bigger vehicles, like scooters, which can move at higher speeds.
“They look like a motorcycle to me,” he said. “They just don’t fit on the trail.”
Stephen Oldfield said he’s seen plenty of unsafe bicycle operation, but doesn’t want to target one group of trail users.
“The problem’s with the operator, not the vehicle.”
--Gloria Er-Chua, Staff Reporter