Why doesn't my moped qualify as a low-speed motorcycle

From ICBC's site

Limited-speed motorcycle definition

  • Has no more than a 50 cubic cm engine displacement or 1.5 kilowatt motor rating
  • Does not need clutching or shifting after the drive system is engaged
  • Has a maximum speed on level ground of 70 km/h and weighs no more than 95 kilograms, excluding fuel and batteries
  • Must have wheels that are 25.4 cm in diameter or more

My 1970s VeloSolex moped has a 49 cc engine. It does not need clutching or shifting. It has top speed of about 30 km/h (down hill with the wind behind you). I don't know the weight but I can pick it up and carry it. The wheels are more than 25.4 cm in diameter.

For the last five years I've been trying to get an answer from someone at ICBC as to how I can use this moped on the road legally. I am willing to insure it, if neccessary. At first I was told I could ride it without insurance, just follow the road rules for a bicycle (just like in the 70s). However, I was pulled over by a police cruiser and informed that I needed a plate to operate on the road, so I just disconnected the drive and pedalled off into the sunset. Next, I visited an ICBC agent's office to try to insure it as a limited-speed motorcycle, no go, I have a bill of sale showing the serial number but no VIN#. The agent called ICBC for more info and was told I didn't need insurance, this was confirmed by e-mail. Two days later, another e-mail saying that I was misinformed and the moped would have to be insured, then another informing me that it cannot be used on the road legally, however, if it had an electric motor - no problem.

Anybody out there know the correct answer?

Thanks.

Answer

I want to start with clarification. A motor assisted cycle (MAC) is an electrically powered bicycle with pedals. A limited speed motorcycle (LSM) is a two wheeled vehicle typically powered by a gasoline engine and does not have pedals that allow human power to propel it. An LSM is a special type of motorcycle.

In order to qualify it needs to do more than fit the definition of LSM in our Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations. It also needs to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards and be marked in compliance in order to be licensed and insured here in B.C. That means things like lights, reflectors, brakes, horn and much more. Even with a uncomplicated machine such as yours, that will not be a simple task. Likely you will need an engineer familiar with the standards who will certify it and satisfy Transport Canada.

Once you have done that, then it will be off to ICBC with all the documentation in the hope that they will licence and insure it.

Since you have pedals, I'm going to assume that you are actually talking about a MAC, and not an LSM. It has to have an electric motor, not a gas one. As soon as you hook a gas motor up to it, you are a motorcycle and back in the land of the LSM instead of being a MAC.

All of this really boils down to how the laws are written.

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