A London motorcycle instructor is calling for more stringent regulations for the operation of e-bikes in the wake of the death Friday in Tillsonburg of an e-bike rider.
Harvey Collett, 52, of Tillsonburg, was riding his e-bike in the town at 9:10 a.m. when he collided with an Emterra Environmental recycling truck.
"I feel sorry for the guy, but I’m not a fan of e-bikes, personally," said Derek Botten, an avid motorcycle rider and former motorcycle instructor at Fanshawe College.
"I think they’re a . . . menace," Botten added, stressing he was speaking only for himself.
Because e-bikes are treated as bicycles, riders don’t need a licence or insurance under the Highway Traffic Act.
They also don’t require training, unlike users of motorcycles. "Anybody can ride them. You don’t need specific two-wheel training," said Botten, whose students are taught to ride with the vulnerabilities of smaller vehicles in mind.
For instance, they’re told to always think of themselves as existing inside an "envelope of safety" while on the road in order to avoid collisions. "What’s my out?" is the question Botten drills into them.
E-bikes look like regular bikes, scooters and limited-speed motorcycles. They’re powered by electricity or pedals and reach a top speed of 32 km/h. "They’re legislated the same as a pedal bike. That’s the problem," said Botten, adding that’s likely also the reason they’re popular.
He said e-bikes also have other strikes against them: They don’t have sufficient accelerating capacity to get out of tight spots quickly and their braking power is minimal.
As for manoeuvring, Botten believes a Segueway is better than an e-bike.
"Maybe there should be some safety training required to operate one of these things," he said. "Nothing’s going to change until more people get hurt. That’s the sad part."