Q&A - Is It a Motor Assisted Cycle?

Motor Assisted CycleThe other day my son was riding his Motorino Scooter which has the Transport Canada label that it is a 'Power Assisted  Bicycle'  He had his pedals attached which was acknowledged by the officer.  Yet he was charged with 'no lisence' and 'no insurance' because the officer insisted that the bike did not meet the MAC qualifications.  The charges were $276 and $598.  The officer’s contention is that the Motorino scooter does not meet 3(2)(a) which reads: “The motor of a motor assisted cycle must turn off or disengage if (a) the operator stops pedaling, ... 

However, doesn't the label from Transport Canada prove that it is classified as a MAC?  Is this just en effort to get the  scooters off the road?  Any information would be helpful.  I know that others have been charged with these offenses because the pedals were taken off but my son's pedals were on at the time.  Nor was he committing any other offenses. 

NOTE: As of February 2021, Transport Canada has decided that it will no longer regulate power assisted bicycles whose top speed is 32 km/h or less. This is being left to the provinces and could mean that the PAB label will no longer be affixed by manufacturers. Inquiries for more information are being made.



This should be an example of the label that you are speaking of:

power assisted bicycle approval label

This is the federal standard marking and signifies that the machine met standards federally when it left the factory.

The Motor Vehicle Act definition of a MAC is:

"motor assisted cycle" means a device

(a) to which pedals or hand cranks are attached that will allow for the cycle to be propelled by human power,

(b) on which a person may ride,

(c) to which is attached a motor of a prescribed type that has an output not exceeding the prescribed output, and

(d) that meets the other criteria prescribed under section 182.1 (3);

These are offences related to the use of a MAC:

Motor assisted cycles

182.1  (1) A person who is under the age of 16 years commits an offence if that person operates a motor assisted cycle on a highway.

(2) A parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years commits an offence if the parent or guardian authorizes or knowingly permits the person to operate a motor assisted cycle on a highway.

(3) The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may make regulations respecting motor assisted cycles including, without limitation, regulations prescribing

(a) the criteria that must be met by a device in order for it to qualify as a motor assisted cycle for the purposes of this Act,

(b) the requirements that must be met in relation to operators of, and equipment attached to, motor assisted cycles, and

(c) restrictions on what may be attached to or carried on a motor assisted cycle.

The Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation would be the regulations spoken of in 182.1(3). 

The rule you are speaking of is as follows:

Motor shut-off requirement

3 (2)  The motor of a motor assisted cycle must turn off or disengage if

(a) the operator stops pedaling,

(b) an accelerator controller is released, or

(c) a brake is applied.

As you can see, there are 3 different acceptable methods of shutting off the motor. If any of these 3 are functional, then it meets the requirement and can still be considered a MAC.

However, if someone has tampered with the shutoff mechanism so that none of these 3 motor shutoffs function as intended it does not meet the requirement and consequently is no longer defined as a MAC under BC law. It is still a motor vehicle as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act:

"motor vehicle" means a vehicle, not run on rails, that is designed to be self propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but does not include mobile equipment or a motor assisted cycle;

All motor vehicles must comply with licensing and insurance rules when they are used on a highway. For clarity, here is that definition as well:

"highway" includes

(a) every highway within the meaning of the Transportation Act,

(b) every road, street, lane or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles, and

(c) every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited,

but does not include an industrial road;

So, if your son is driving a motorized cycle on a highway that does not comply with the BC definition of MAC, he is still driving a motor vehicle and ultimately needs a driver's licence, vehicle licence and insurance.

Having said that, you will want to read this article about another powered bicycle rider and his brush with the rules.

That Case is Different

I found your website extremely helpful in clarifying the issues.  I did read the entire court documents of the case you refer to.  That case is somewhat different because that bicycle did not meet the MAC standards having a gasoline motor.  The entire case of the officer against my son rests in the fact that he believed the scooter was not a MAC.  However, there is absolutely no doubt that it is a MAC.  Therefore his case will fail.  The difficulty we have is that it takes a long time for it to come to trial.  The ticketing officer said he would continue to ticket my son if he went on the road with this scooter.  I have entered a discussion with the staff sergeant of my local detachment who has promised to come with a resolution for us.  I sent a letter to him outlining much of what I've pasted in the note to you.  Hopefully that will educate the officer involved. 

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