Powered by

Driving the future of sustainable mobility

Canada refuses to learn what an ebike is — and it’s gonna cause problems

The country is asking provinces to decide, and that probably won't end well

canada, ebikes, regulations, pab, future, micromobility, confusing
Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric driving irresistible.

With the proliferation of ebikes and other micromobility devices, Canada has decided it’s high time to take a look at how it regulates the tech.

Reviewing regulations to bring them up to date for new tech sounds like a good thing, but in this case Canada is kind of missing the point. It could make ebikes, escooters, and the like a lot less enticing for Canadians if things don’t pan out.

So what’s going on?

As of February 4, Canada’s regulators have decided to repeal its Power Assisted Bicycle (PAB) definition, The Globe and Mail reports.

[Read: How much does it cost to buy, own, and run an EV? It’s not as much as you think]

PAB was created to exclude ebikes from the country’s Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, and govern them under their own set of rules. However, Canada has decided that it’s going to let provinces and territories decide how ebikes are regulated and governed.

That’s a problem.

In a country as large and diverse as Canada, there is going to be as broad a range of opinions on how ebikes, escooters, and other mobility devices should be regulated. What’s more, it’s not like they’re all regulating just one type of device either.

Most other nations, like the EU, regulate in a collaborative way to make rules and consistent and wide-reaching as possible.

ebike, novelty, car, future, travel, transport, urban, future, electric, bike, bicycle
Ebikes are fantastic, we’re big fans of them here at Shift. The more they replace car trips in cities, the better.

Ebikes come in all forms, from low-powered town bikes, to high-powered cargo carrying machines. Escooters are equally confusing, have varying capabilities, and come with a variety of ownership models. And what about hoverboards, electric skateboards, monowheels, or even Segways?

That’s the crux of the problem here. An already diverse collection of devices, which lacks consistent terminology, is being regulated by an equally broad and diverse set of governmental regions.

The risk is simple: a lack of national regulations will lead to confusing bureaucracy that’s inconsistent and challenging to understand. The outcome? People won’t bother. If I was a Canadian, I wouldn’t stand for it.

It’s not just a shame if people turn away from ebikes and escooters, it’s an environmental injustice, I tell you!

There’s been study after study about how much better cycling is than driving for the planet. It’s a pain to see governments not taking it seriously enough and regulating it in a simple and proactive way.

It’s almost as if the Canadian government can’t be bothered and is just delegating to its regions to save time. In reality, it’s likely to create more headaches, and it’ll be citizens that pay the price.

As urban planner and director of a Canadian non-profit cycling advocacy group Darnel Harris told The Globe and Mail:

We’re going to see more of what weʼve already seen, which is a proliferation of unregulated micromobility devices that are causing trouble for consumers, that are causing headaches for cities and municipalities across the country.


SHIFT is brought to you by Polestar. It’s time to accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility. That is why Polestar combines electric driving with cutting-edge design and thrilling performance. Find out how.

Published February 4, 2021 — 12:48 UTC