I can kind of see it. E-bikes fall into this muddy area between motor vehicles and bikes. According to the Highway Traffic Act they are considered "motor assisted bicycles."* They have pedals but no one uses them: well, once I saw a guy pedaling an e-bike, on those teeny-tiny vestigial pedals. I assume the bike had run out of juice. It was a pretty funny thing to watch, I have to admit. I probably would have got off and walked the bike, myself.
They can get up to around 30 kph - the bike paths' ostensible speed limit is 20 - and after a few years of dodging small children, clotheslining dog leashes and/or the dogs themselves on the MUPs, I can see why a speed limit is a good idea. And a small, selfish bit of me thinks, "oh, get a real bike," when one of them zips by on the path or - heaven forfend - on the sidewalk where they really shouldn't be. But I know that bit of my brain is in the wrong. Motor-assisted bikes are great for people that want to bike but for whatever reason can't. Say you have a physical disability or something. They're also great for people that don't want to bike, and don't really feel the need to get their pulse up on their way around town, but also don't want to have a car or burn gas. Valid reasons to have one of these bikes.
But are they motorized or not? That's really at the heart of this, I think. They're too slow to be motorcycles, and they have those little pedals making them 'bicycles,' and so they're a new kind of beast. I also have to say that their sheer silence makes them spooky for me, when trying to share the path with them. I won't hear one coming up behind me to pass, or approaching an intersection, and then woop! there it is.
So, I'm not yet certain what I think about banning them from the paths. They're another green form of transport, which is good, but there's just something about how people think about and use the paths that isn't really compatible with a motorized vehicle. . . yet, what about one of those electric-assist bikes with the generator for climbing hills? would they also be banned? Where's the line?
I'll keep watching. Maybe I'll figure out where I stand as the NCC mulls it over.
*Want the official description? (quoted from the HTA):
“motor assisted bicycle” means a bicycle,
(a) that is fitted with pedals that are operable at all times to propel the bicycle,
(b) that weighs not more than fifty-five kilograms,
(c) that has no hand or foot operated clutch or gearbox driven by the motor and transferring power to the driven wheel,
(d) that has an attached motor driven by electricity or having a piston displacement of not more than fifty cubic centimetres, and(e) that does not have sufficient power to enable the bicycle to attain a speed greater than 50 kilometres per hour on level ground within a distance of 2 kilometres from a standing start.