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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cyclists, e-bikers spar over bike lanes [thestar.com]


Doug Beatty, president of the Toronto Electric Riders Association, rides his e-bike on a street in Toronto earlier this month. The city is trying to establish rules on where these vehicles fit in the transportation mix.
STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR
Doug Beatty, president of the Toronto Electric Riders Association, rides his e-bike on a street in Toronto earlier this month. The city is trying to establish rules on where these vehicles fit in the transportation mix.
For cyclist Paul Farnan it’s simple: bike lanes are the only place in the city where you can operate non-motorized vehicles in relative safety.
To buttress his point, he showed up at Saturday’s stakeholders’ open house with photographs of the muscular electric two-wheeled vehicles he fears will squeeze cyclists out of bike lanes if the city abolishes rules keeping electric bicycles out of bike lanes and parks.
“It’s a thin edge of the wedge thing,” he says, pointing at a photo of an electric scooter. “I don’t know what reality anybody lives in where that is a bicycle.”
But for Gary Salo the conflict is just as clear-cut: Toronto should place e-bikes — bicycles with both pedals and an electric motor — into the same category as normal bikes and allow them free access to bicycle lanes. He says cyclists who don’t want to share are either selfish or indifferent to the peril e-bike riders face.
“We feel we’re in danger on the road, especially in downtown Toronto,” says Salo, whose company manufactures bicycle-to-e-bike conversion kits.
And for the city, the trick is to establish a set of bylaws that satisfies both sides.

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