Motor assisted cycle or motorcycle?

Taking the pedals off of your motor assisted cycle or attaching a gasoline engine to a bicycle, both could land you in trouble

Whether your mechanical skills are limited to taking the pedals off of your motor assisted cycle or extensive enough to attach a gasoline engine to a bicycle, both could land you in trouble with the rules.

Making either of these modifications will turn your transport into a motor vehicle that requires insurance and licence plates. At $598, the ticket for operating without insurance is an expensive one.

In order to qualify as a motor assisted cycle and avoid the need to buy licence and insurance, the machine must meet a number of qualifications. These include an electric motor with a power output of 500 watts or less and a top speed of no more than 32 km/h on level ground. The most important feature is that it must have pedals to allow you to pedal it.

There has been some past confusion in the traffic courts about whether modified motor assisted cycles require insurance and licence. You may recall the case of R v Ryan where Judicial Justice of the Peace Gordon held that a bicycle with a gasoline engine could not be licenced and insured, so it must not require them, finding Mr. Ryan not guilty. Subsequent decisions have followed provincial court rulings and resulted in convictions.

With this in mind, think twice before you take the pedals off or create something that will put your bank account in jeopardy.

For more information about this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

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