Electric-assist bikes are becoming increasingly popular on bike lanes, but few people seem to be aware of the regulations surrounding this mode of transport, like a mother from Bécancour, in the Center-du-Québec region, who learned her teen had to have a license for driving.
Isabelle Richard bought her 16-year-old son an electrically assisted bike, not realizing he wouldn’t be able to use it. By chance, she came across the rules of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.
The regulations on the website state that the minimum age to ride this type of bike is 14 and youngsters between the ages of 14 and 17 must have a class 6D moped licence.
“We could have known, like other people, when we got a ticket from the police,” believes Ms. Richard.
Luckily, she says, the bike never left the house.
She made the decision to return the bike to the store as her son has an autism spectrum disorder and the process would have been more difficult for him.
Once in the shop, the clerk told her that she wasn’t the only one in this situation.
“She mentioned another family to me, a young man who had gone so far as to have a ticket. He told the police, yes, but I didn’t know, but the policeman still gave the ticket,” said the mother.
The rule is also unknown to some shops specializing in the sale of bicycles.
At Laferté Bicycles in Trois-Rivières, consultant Martin Alarie-Rivard claims he has never heard of it. The implementation of the regulations is also difficult to explain.
“The place of use is the same as with a conventional bicycle.”
He wonders if a 14-17 year old driver’s license makes sense for an electrically assisted bike if his speed is limited to 32 km/h and he doesn’t have a license plate.
There is still some nuance, since the majority of buyers are over 18 years old. Mr. Alarie-Rivard estimates his electrically assisted bicycle customers are in their thirties.
Also at Passion Vélos in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, you rarely see teenagers wanting to buy these types of bikes.
“A 16-17 year old, I don’t think he could afford a $2,500-$3,000 bike, but what we see people walking around with is often internet purchases,” responded salesman Martin Lanouette.
Bécancour’s mother wants parents to be better informed before buying, to avoid returns in stores or unpleasant surprises on the road that can become expensive.