Should you Buy your Child an Electric Bike? Concerns for Safety…

October 17, 2022

Electric Bike Safety - Pedego Canada

Kids on bikes has taken on a whole new set of concerns with the rise of electric bicycles across the globe. Bikes have always given kids freedom but as their rides are more and more often electrified, this freedom comes with apprehension and/or an additional need for rules.

At Pedego Canada, we place a high priority on safety to avoid accidents and continue to enjoy riding! What does that mean when it comes to young riders?

Each province in Canada has its own laws when it comes to youth on electric bikes. It may not even be legal for your child to ride a bike on the roads in your community. (See below for a list showing the laws in your province. We try to keep this info up to date but keep in mind that laws can change…) Laws also include whether helmets are mandatory and passengers are forbidden if the bike is not built for two.

Pedego Canada only sells electric bikes to those legally allowed to ride them, fyi. We do know there are parents out there buying ebikes for their kids. It may seem like an easy solution to constant requests for rides and dreaded late night pickups, but have you considered the following:

  1. Frequent causes of trauma injuries for cyclists are inexperience, misuse, and inadequate protection. Common injuries from ebikes are concussions, limb fractures, skull fracture, and facial fractures from incidents of falling off bike, colliding with a static object, or being hit by a car
  2. There are electric bikes on the market for toddlers but it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure your child can ride a regular bike before putting them on an electric one. If they still can’t pedal, it’s better to get a seat for your electric bike and carry your child as a passenger instead.
  3. Does your child know the rules of the road – How to signal before turning? Who has the right of way at an intersection? Navigating through traffic according to the law is important in avoiding accidents.
  4. Help your child master the bike in a safe environment before sending them off on the road. Just because they can ride a regular bike doesn’t mean they can instantly adapt to an electrified version. The often-higher speeds of an electric bike mean decisions have to be made quicker, or motorists can misjudge the speed of the approaching bike.
  5. Equip your child with a regulation helmet and other safety gear should they need including lights and reflectors for visibility. In Canada, bicycle helmets are mandatory in eight provinces, either for all cyclists (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia) or for minors only (Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta).
  6. Choose a bike that fits the child rather than expecting them to jump on dad’s ebike. Unless your teenager is already towering over you, remember that a kid needs a bike sized for a kid. For that matter, everyone needs a bike that fits them to ensure the safest ride.
  7. An electric bike is not a toy. Set rules off the get go. It’s harder to reign in an unrestrained child. In most cases, passengers are considered illegal on a bike that is not equipped with a seat for an extra rider. No handlebar doubling or dangling legs behind the rider is a great rule to start with. Parents may also say use with pedal assist only – no throttles.
  8. You know your child. Are they responsible? Do they take risks and show off for their friends? Do they pay attention and take care or are they easily distracted? Set rules that will keep your child safe as they ride but also protect your investment. Ensure they know how to lock your electric bike up properly.

Everyone has seen a kid zip by on their electric bike with no helmet and a buddy on board. How do you deal with kids in the friend group with more permissive parents? Develop a set of family rules and stand by them. Your kids will appreciate it later in life – trust us.

Provincial Laws – Current Fall 2022

  • British Columbia – You must be at least 16.
  • Alberta – You must be at least 12; passenger only allowed if bike is designed for passenger.
  • Saskatchewan – You must be at least 14 and require at least a learner’s driving license. Passengers are only allowed if bike is designed for passenger
  • Manitoba – You must be at least 14.
  • Ontario – You must be at least 16.
  • Quebec – You must be at least 14 and if under 18 have a moped or scooter license.
  • Prince Edward Island – You must be at least 16.
  • Nova Scotia – Riders must wear a helmet and cannot carry passengers.
  • New Brunswick – No age limits set.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – Riders over the age of 18 do not need a license or registration, but riders between 14 – 17 need an authorized permit to operate an electric bike.
  • Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut – The territories fall under federal jurisdiction, so riders must follow federal rules which don’t include age restrictions.