E-bike community circulating petition to lift partial rail trail ban in North Okanagan

Petition to allow all e-bikes

The e-bike battle on the north end of the Okanagan Rail Trail has taken a new turn.

One of the owners of Pedego electric bike rentals in Oyama, Sheila Fraser, has started a petition asking for the Regional District of North Okanagan to relent and allow class 2 e-bikes on the trail between Oyama and Coldstream.

"The petition was set up today and I will be speaking to the RDNO as an official Delegation June 1, 2022, at the RDNO offices," Fraser says.

Since the RDNO posted signs prohibiting class 2 and 3 e-bikes on their section of the Okanagan Rail Trail, Fraser says her customers and the e-bike riding community have been left confused and disgruntled.

"The Okanagan Rail Trail was built primarily by the people of the Okanagan as an active transportation corridor for the enjoyment of all ages and abilities. The RDNO's Bylaw 2834 mistakenly discriminates against class 2 e-bike users," Fraser says.

Ever since the signs banning all but class 1 e-bikes, or class 2 e-bikes with their throttles disengaged, Pedego has been fighting to have the bylaw changed and the signs taken down.

The difference between a class 1 and class 2 e-bike is the on-demand throttle. Pedego electric bicycles can be configured as either class 1 or class 2 e-bikes, although there is a process. Pedego's owners say, either way, they conform with the BC Motor Vehicle Act.

“While our bikes could still operate on the trail as class 1 bikes with pedal-assist only, we strongly argue that this ban is unnecessary … The throttle does not increase the power of the electric bike; it is just another way of engaging the motor,” said Mike Clyde, owner of Pedego Electric Bikes.

“Many of our riders, particularly the elderly or those with mobility challenges, rely on the throttle to ride their electric bicycle at least some of the time."

Electric bike producers say the on-demand throttle assist lets less able-bodied riders start smoothly from a standing position and move up inclines with ease while picking up the correct gear and pedal assist level.

"It can also assist when a fatigued rider wants or needs to complete a longer ride," Fraser says.

Fraser maintains that the change by the RDNO caused unnecessary confusion because the boundaries of the RDNO jurisdiction are unclear, "the public was frustrated, confused, and caught off-guard by this newly posted bylaw."

Fraser says the main demographic for class 2 e-bikes is people 55 and over who utilize the throttle as an assistance tool. "The majority who desire to be law-abiding, will stop using the trail so as to not break the law. This does not serve the objective of the trail and is discriminatory against this demographic."

YouTube Pedego Canada

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