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Behind-the-Wheel

Province updates rules for riding e-bikes on B.C. highways

New e-bike rules on roads

Effective April 5, the provincial government updated the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation. The update created two categories of e-bike, a standard and a light version, as well as setting minimum ages for riders using them on the highway.

Standard e-bikes:

• Cannot have motors exceeding 500 W continuous power output rating

• Must have a maximum speed of 32 km/h

• Can have either pedal or throttle operated motors that can be disengaged

• Must have brakes that meet braking standards

• Cannot be operated by anyone under the age of 16 years old on a highway

Light e-bikes:

• Cannot have motors exceeding 250 W continuous power output rating

• Must have a maximum speed of 25 km/h

• Are limited to pedal-operated motors (must not have a throttle)

• Must have brakes that meet braking standards

• Cannot be operated by anyone under the age of 14 years old on a highway

• Cannot be operated by anyone under the age of 16 years old on a highway if carrying or towing passengers

A light e-bike, travelling at 25 km/h on a clean, level paved surface, must come to a stop within 7.5 metres. While a standard e-bike, travelling at 32 km/h on a clean, level pave surface, must come to a stop within 9 metres.

If your electric bicycle does not meet these standards, it is considered to be a motor vehicle and if you to ride it on the highway, you are subject to the requirements for licensing, insurance and motor vehicle standards compliance.

Because the federal government has chosen not to regulate motor-assisted cycles, the job has been left to the provinces. So, what is legal in B.C. may not be legal in other provinces and vice versa.

While collision liability insurance is not required for motor-assisted cycles in B.C., it is still something you may wish to consider buying. If you regularly ride in traffic, causing a collision could result in a bill that is much larger than you could easily pay.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Don't let bad driving habits become your default setting

Bad habits behind the wheel

Dan is a friend who I occasionally get together with to discuss road safety.

He's a commercial trucker and a driving instructor with a lot of experience behind the wheel. The last time we had lunch together, he made a comment that struck me and I promised to use it for a column.

"Don't let that become your default setting" made a lot of sense to me.

When we start to drive, he said, we try to do everything properly all the time. As we gain experience and become more comfortable with the complex task of driving, we occasionally slip away from the ideal.

We may drive a little faster, stop a little further into the intersection or take other chances we come to think of as minor in nature. But, if we don't pay attention to this tendency and consciously decide to return to what is proper, we run the risk of making this our "default setting."

In traffic law enforcement, dealing with some drivers’ default settings often earns an angry response. They did whatever behaviour caught my attention so many times, it was now normal to them and it carried little or no perceived risk. It should have been beneath notice.

From my point of view, I have seen some pretty horrendous consequences from the behaviour and I knew that if I don't try to return them to the proper “settings,” eventually I will be investigating another serious collision.

No driver will ever be perfect, regardless of how much we try to do the right thing when we are driving but I think we owe it to the traffic we share the highways with to try our best so that we can all be safe.

It would be nice if we came with a reset button, but we don't. It's up to us to look at our driving in our own rear view mirrors and make sure our default settings are the correct ones.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



New rules for vehicles following pedestrians and cyclists in B.C.

New following rules

As I wrote in last week's column about passing pedestrians and cyclists, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act effective June 3 will change the way drivers must behave around vulnerable road users.

Following distances for pedestrians and cyclists are changing as well.

Remember, according to the announcement from the provincial government, vulnerable road users protected by this law include:

• Pedestrians

• Cyclists

• Motorcyclists

• An animal or animal-drawn vehicle

• An electric kick scooter

• An electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter

What you have learned about following distances, in general, still applies. Depending on the road conditions, you must follow at a prudent distance in order to be safe. The “two second” rule is still good guidance under perfect conditions. In the case of vulnerable road users, a minimum following distance of three metres will apply in all circumstances, unless a different distance is prescribed.

Prescribed distances, if any, had not been published at the time this article was written.

There are two exemptions in the new rules regarding the minimum following distance and crossing highway lines.

If passing can be done safely, the minimum following distance is reduced to one metre while the pass is being made, unless there is a prescribed minimum distance. Again, the prescribed minimum is unknown at this time.

When passing vulnerable road users, the solid line prohibitions do not apply when passing in a safe manner.

The new law:

157.1 (1) A driver of a motor vehicle must not cause or permit the motor vehicle to pass a person referred to in subsection (2) unless

(a) the action can be taken safely, and

(b) the following distance can be maintained between the vehicle and the person while the vehicle is passing the person:

(i) subject to subparagraph (ii), a minimum distance of 1 m;

(ii) if a prescribed minimum distance applies, the prescribed minimum distance.

(2) Subsection (1) applies in relation to the following persons:

(a) a pedestrian;

(b) a person who is operating or is on a cycle;

(c) a prescribed person.

(3) A driver who takes an action that would otherwise contravene section 151 (b), (f) or (g) or 155 (1) does not contravene the provision if

(a) the action is taken while the driver is causing the vehicle to pass a person in compliance with this section, and

(b) the driver has ascertained that the action can be taken safely and without affecting the travel of another vehicle.

162.1 (1) A driver of a motor vehicle must not cause or permit the motor vehicle to follow a person referred to in subsection (3) more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for

(a) the amount and nature of traffic on the highway, and

(b) the condition of the highway.

(2) A driver of a motor vehicle must not cause or permit the motor vehicle to follow a person referred to in subsection (3) at a distance that,

(a) subject to paragraph (b), is closer than 3 m, or

(b) if a prescribed distance applies, is closer than the prescribed distance.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) apply in relation to the following persons:

(a) a pedestrian;

(b) a person who is operating or is on a cycle;

(c) a prescribed person.

(4) Subsection (2) does not apply when the driver of the motor vehicle is causing the vehicle to overtake and pass a person in compliance with section 157.1.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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New road rules coming in for passing pedestrians and cyclists

New passing rules

Effective June 3, drivers passing pedestrians, cyclists or other prescribed persons will be subject to new rules in the Motor Vehicle Act.

The rules are designed to provide better protection for vulnerable road users by establishing minimum separation distances from passing vehicles.

According to the announcement from the B.C. government, vulnerable road users protected by this law include:

• Pedestrians

• Cyclists

• Motorcyclists

• An animal or animal-drawn vehicle

• An electric kick scooter

• An electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter

Minimum passing distances are:

• Highways with maximum speeds of 50 km/h or less: 1 metre

• Highways with maximum speeds over 50 km/h: 1.5 metres

• Vulnerable road users in separated and protected cycling lanes and on sidewalks: 0.5 of a metre

The minimum passing distance is measured from the furthest edge of a passing motor vehicle, such as a side mirror, deck or load and the furthest part of the vulnerable road user or their equipment, such as an arm, handlebar or mirror.

In the past, solid lines generally required a driver not to cross over them. Once this new law has taken effect, drivers may cross these lines to provide the minimum passing distance, but only if it is safe to do so and does not affect the path of another vehicle.

A traffic ticket for failing to maintain prescribed minimum passing distances will cost $368 and result in three penalty points.

The New Law

157.1 (1) A driver of a motor vehicle must not cause or permit the motor vehicle to pass a person referred to in subsection (2) unless

(a) the action can be taken safely, and

(b) the following distance can be maintained between the vehicle and the person while the vehicle is passing the person:

(i) subject to subparagraph (ii), a minimum distance of 1 m;

(ii) if a prescribed minimum distance applies, the prescribed minimum distance.

(2) Subsection (1) applies in relation to the following persons:

(a) a pedestrian;

(b) a person who is operating or is on a cycle;

(c) a prescribed person.

(3) A driver who takes an action that would otherwise contravene section 151 (b), (f) or (g) or 155 (1) does not contravene the provision if

(a) the action is taken while the driver is causing the vehicle to pass a person in compliance with this section, and

(b) the driver has ascertained that the action can be taken safely and without affecting the travel of another vehicle.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles



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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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