E-bikes scare me to death. Not the electric assisted bikes like the Copenhagen wheel or the Bosch bike, but the things that look like Vespas with pedals, the scooters that silently zip by me in the bike lanes with an inch to spare. Their drivers often make the worst bike courier look like a pillar of responsibility; I recently saw one go diagonally through a red light without even slowing down. Mikael of Copenhagenize doesn't like them much either:
The first point that should be of interest to anyone working in urban mobility, active transportation or whatever they call it where you're from is the safety aspect. The average speed of Citizen Cycling in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is about 16/kmh. Putting vehicles zipping along at 25 km/h into that equation would not seem to be wise.
If you've been to Amsterdam or, to a lesser extent, Copenhagen, you will know the scourge of the scooters. Fast-moving vehicles that cause injury and death to the riders and others in their path. Adding more scooters to the cycle tracks and bike lanes is hardly beneficial to the development of better traffic safety
Rob Ford and Toronto City Council don't read Copenhagenize. Nor do they like bicycles, when there might be some powered alternative. So when faced with the issue of whether e-bikes should be allowed in the bike lanes, of course they would approve their use, including the scooters, against the wishes of the great majority of the cycling community. Chris Bateman writes in BlogTO:
A 2013 study by Toronto's Transportation Services devision found almost half of e-bike riders thought the vehicles should be allowed in the bike lane. Just 12% of cyclists agreed, citing the size, speed, and weight of e-bikes as a safety concern. The motorized scooters are significantly heavier compared to conventional bicycles and are capable of higher speeds.
"The likelihood of being injured when struck by a 120 kg vehicle [the maximum e-bike weight] travelling at 32 kmh [the maximum speed] is probably far greater than if struck by a lighter bicycle travelling at a slower speed," a city report on the matter said, though no collision data was available.
Cycling advocacy groups like Cycle Toronto were against it. ARC (Advocacy for respect for cyclists) is outraged.
Any injuries to cyclists caused by eBikes in bike lanes will be City Council's responsibility. #bikeTO— ARC (@RespectTO) February 21, 2014
It was a surprising mix of supporters that carries this vote, including Mayor Rob Ford and Public Works head Denzil Minnan-Wong, who aided Ford in ripping up the Jarvis Street Bike Lanes and told the City's Chief Medical officer to run for head of public works if he wanted to lower speed limits. Minnan-Wong says it is all about safety for seniors, who are taking to e-bikes. Or it might just be another way of getting rid of bike lanes by opening them up for other uses.
Between the City vehicles and the scooters, there's not much room left in Toronto for bikes.