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Electric Bike or Moped? In An Accident, Electric Bike Owners May Lose Twice

With the growing popularity of alternative vehicles in Ontario, the government is undergoing a review of various forms of transportation.  This includes electric bikes (“e-bikes”) and/or scooters, mopeds, motor tricycles, motorized wheelchairs, low speed vehicles and those unique machines named Segway transporters.

You can read the Ontario government’s outline of these different types of vehicle and the requirements which surround each.

As a commuter, I now see e-bike riders daily in good weather, wearing helmets, driving in the curb lane just like a bicyclist.

As a personal injury lawyer, I can’t help but think of the insurance issues and consequences of riding on the roadway, almost at the speed of traffic, with cars and trucks speeding all around.

Confusingly, some e-bikes look like mopeds, but there is a difference.  Mopeds need to beinsured, require a driver’s license and the machine itself travels at 50 – 70 km/hr.  E-bike riders have to wear helmets (per s.104(2.1) of the Highway Traffic Act) but do not need insurance, nor a driver’s license, and their e-bike travels a maximum of only 32 km/hr.

Further, moped riders are expected to ride in a fashion similar to motorcycles, so that they occupy their entire lane of travel.  E-bikes on the roadway are passed constantly by cars, so they allow cars to go around them while in the same lane of travel.
What Happens if an E-Bike is in an Accident?  If an e-bike rider is involved in an accident, there may be no insurance coverage to protect them if they are injured and/or suffer loss or damage.

Yet presumably the very purpose of purchasing an e-bike (which in Ontario only people 16 years and older can use) is:

• to commute; and
• save money when compared to a moped, motorcycle or car.

Given that e-bikes are expected to ride on the roadway, they are constantly interacting with cars and trucks, without insurance coverage.
What Does a Lack of Insurance Mean?  Not having insurance when you are involved in an accident can be disastrous for you and your family.

If you are sued, there is no insurance to defend you in a lawsuit nor to provide coverage in the event that damages are to be paid.

If you are injured, no insurance could mean that, ultimately, you bear your losses on your own.  Having insurance may mean that you can claim for a variety of matters, including:

• benefits for income loss;
• medical benefits – for physiotherapy, counseling services, medical equipment;
• benefits for occupational therapy or attendant care; and
• benefits for help around your home.

E-bike or moped?  From an insurance perspective, the extra cost of a moped is well worth the insurance protection is provides in the event of an accident.

As background, readers may wish to review our March 30 and June 2 blogs regarding bicyclists.
Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer