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A Canadian man is fighting in court for his right to ride a power-assisted electric bicycle. Chesley Earle, 25, who has a disability that impairs his ability to stand for long periods or walk long distances, saved his money for months to buy a bike powered by pedaling and electricity. He uses his bike to drive through the city of Corner Brook, which is located on the west coast of Newfoundland in eastern Canada.

He was stopped by the police – the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary – on his first day of riding the power-assisted bike and was charged on four counts, including riding without a proper "license" and registration. On August 30, he appeared in court with his uncle Michael Earle assisting him to fight fines that added up to $3,000 in Canadian dollars.

The bike is electric and pedal-driven and has a top speed of 25 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour), compared to gasoline-driven mopeds with pedals that can go as fast as 70 or 80 km/h (43-50 mph), Michael Earle told CBC News. The bike gave his nephew the freedom to travel around Corner Brook, visit his grandmother and to go swimming in the park. "The bike sort of opened up the world for him," his uncle said.

The RNC officer charged that Earle's bike, like motorcycles, require a license and registration. The family did its own legal research and disagreed, so they entered a not guilty plea. "We discovered there is nothing out there on any documents in federal, provincial or town documents stating that these bikes aren't allowed on the streets of Newfoundland and Labrador," Michael Earle said.

The case will come back to the court again on December 19.


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  • 17 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Months Ago
      This has been a recurring problem in Canada. Out there they have these 50cc scooter looking things with pedals attached to them that get sold as bikes. Most of the time it is not a legal problem, but it seems like people get randomly busted using them. It is strange to allow something to be sold that is intended for road use, then turn around and bust people for using them. How's that make sense?
      Ryan
      • 2 Months Ago
      1. That is a sweet looking bicycle. 2. Was it an obvious e-bike with a visible motor, else, how did the cops know? 3. Can he pedal the bike? 4. An e-bike that can't go over 20mph is a bike by my standards. Don't they have better stuff to investigate up in Canada? I shouldn't say much, because here in the Land of the Free, I could see local governments regulating this.
        PeterScott
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        The model he has is one that looks more like a gas powered scooter than a bicycle, so it wouldn't be mistaken for a regular bicycle. NFLD needs to wake up and modernize their laws for ebikes. These are legal and considered the same as other e-bikes in Ontario.
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        In the land of the free, you have as much a confusing and contradictory laws as Canada. Ebikes are still illegal in places like New York. Other states allow them, others impose restrictions, there is no consistency. The ebike in question is a 350 watt motor and top speed of 32 kph and is legally sold and ridden in many other provinces. However even though sold legally in other Provinces, local municipalities still have the power to regulate and restrict their use on the roads and trails under municipal jurisdiction .
      Rick
      • 2 Months Ago
      If it has to registered maybe he should get a good Apple lawyer, and take them to court and get them to pay him the $5,000 incentive to buy an EV. Canadian consumers are eligible for an incentive ranging from $5,000 to $8,500 towards the purchase or lease of a new plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Just to clarify, this is an electric powered scooter-styled ebike, not the one pictured, but is legally a power-assisted bicycle under Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act since 2001. However Newfoundland never updated their legislation, so Newfoundland still classifies ebikes as mopeds under the Newfoundland Motor Vehicle Act. Thus the question is whose law is valid. In some areas of Canada you need to be a lawyer before you hop on your ebike or your can get into a lot of legal trouble just as this poor fellow did, he is not the only one, as in some jurisdictions, there is a confusing array of conflicting Federal, Provincial, and Municipal laws. Unfortunately unless they get a very smart lawyer, they will lose this case, further complicating the legal situation in Canada. Shame on Canada.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Months Ago
      Wow, Canada is way behind if it doesn't even allow electric bicycles
      Anne
      • 2 Months Ago
      Wake up Canada, welcome to the 21st century!
      PR
      • 2 Months Ago
      If Canada has a process where whatever he is riding can be licensed and registered, then they should just do it and be done with it. If it cannot be registered, then it should be allowed the same as a bicycle. Many parts of Europe have rules about this, where under a certain number of watts, it's still a bicycle. (I think it is something like 200 watts??) Otherwise it needs to be registered. It seems like they might be taking out on this kid their own failure to keep their legislation up to date with modern technology. Hard to know without having a Canadian law license.
      Disgruntled Goat
      • 2 Months Ago
      Cananda actually has garbage police. Really.
        Rob J
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Disgruntled Goat
        Really?
          Rob J
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Rob J
          Wow. I had no idea that the RCMP, VPD, OPD, TPD all worked together like that! Neat! I'll make sure the catch the VPD going through my trash.
          Disgruntled Goat
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Rob J
          Really! They pick through your garbage to make sure you separated your trash correctly. If not, fines...
      Rob J
      • 2 Months Ago
      For the record, Canada is a big place and this isn't what happens where I live. In Vancouver, people are allowed to drive electric scooters at high speed in bike lanes and pose a real danger to cyclists. As for this story, obviously it's crap that he was ticketed. Any bike where you are only ASSISTED by an electric motor is still a bike in my books. especially if I maxes out at 25km/h AND weights the same as a normal bike (give or take) and isn't a 200 pound + rider machine. Also, this is another story that makes me excited about the advancements in autonomous cars as way to let the elderly and disabled to get out and have a normal life.
      Conspiracy theory
      • 2 Months Ago
      http://gearpatrol.com/2012/09/05/stealth-bomber-electric-bike/ Imagine if it was one of these?
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Months Ago
      Cops are worse than criminals in wasting time, money and good will by always acting power hungry instead of providing useful services stopping actual crimes. Enforcing nonexistent regulations without regard to this citizens circumstances makes these cops real pigs, in every awful sense of the word. This should be a learning experience for them if they're to prove worthy of continued existence.
      Nick
      • 2 Months Ago
      What is the officer''s name? This a----hole should be punched in the face and fired from the police dept.
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