Electric bicycles, also known as e-bikes, are rapidly rising in popularity.
Bill Fry, the owner of Trek Bikes says it is the hot ticket item in his store and has been for a little while.
“First of all e-bikes are amazing, they’re making cycling more accessible to so many people,” Fry told CHEK News.
Although e-bikes are expanding the world of cycling, they are also speeding things up.
“Bikes travel way faster than people think, it doesn’t take much to get them going,” said Fry.
Under the Motor Vehicle Act, the maximum speed for electric bikes in BC on level ground without pedalling is 32 kilometres an hour. Those speeds seem fast, but with motorized bikes, it isn’t hard to top that.
The Saanich Police were out with CHEK Wednesday afternoon and, using a radar gun, were able to clock an e-bike going 48 km/h in an area of the city where the speed limit is 50 km/h.
These are the laws on the roadway or in bike lanes, but once you get onto the trails, it can get dangerous.
“So you go across the trestle a normal bike will slow down to 18 kilometres an hour. an ebike stays at 32, theoretically, and so what’s happening there is that in congested areas the ebike is still going fast whereas a normal bike has slowed down a little bit,” said Fry.
The Capital Regional District does not have it’s own speed limits on regional trails. One big reasoning for this, according to the CRD, is that most bikes don’t have speedometers so enforcing speed limits is challenge when riders don’t know how fast they are going.
The CRD said park officers are on the trails at least once a week, however, during the peak cycling season.
Saanich Police informed CHEK News that they are keeping an eye out for road safety when it comes to e-bikes, but that falls among their other regular duties.
“I’m not aware of any particular enforcement directed at electric bicycles,” said Cst. Markus Anastasiades with Saanich PD.
Fry feels that although higher speeds can be reached on the new e-bikes, that shouldn’t be encouraging people.
“Just because the bike can go that fast doesn’t mean you have to ride it that fast all the time.”