E-cargo bikes are hitting the streets: here’s what you need to know

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E-cargo bikes are a great way to commute to work, run errands and deliver goods and packages. They also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic and contribute to an active lifestyle. Thanks to new legislation, e-cargo bikes can be used for commercial and personal use on Ottawa roads, starting Wednesday, September 22.

Before your inaugural trip, make sure you know what type of e-cargo bike to purchase and how to safely ride it throughout the city. While an e-cargo bike might seem similar to an e-bike, their design, function and rules for riding are different.

E-cargo bike versus e-bike: what’s the difference?


In Ontario, a bike that weighs more than 55 kilograms may be considered an e-cargo bike if it has all the necessary components of a conventional bicycle, like pedals, a steering handlebar, two or three wheels, and includes the following features:

  • A platform, basket or container for carrying cargo, parcels or goods
  • An electric motor 1,000 watts or less that does not exceed speeds of 32 kilometres per hour
  • Wheels that are between 35 millimetres and 350 millimetres wide

If the bike has a conventional fork-and-frame design, weighs under 55 kilograms, has an electric motor 500 watts or less that does not exceed speeds of 32 kilometres per hour, a steering handlebar and two or three wheels, it is considered an e-bike.

Designed to suit your needs


Will you be using an e-cargo bike to commute to work or pick up groceries? Or will you be delivering packages for a local business? Be sure to choose a design that will meet your personal or commercial needs.

Under the new by-law, personal e-cargo bikes are pedal-driven bicycles that have conventional exposed fork-and-frame designs and weigh more than 55 kilograms. Personal e-cargo bikes have some the following design features:

A man using a personal e-cargo bike to transport two children.


Commercial e-cargo bikes vary widely in design but are typically larger and heavier than personal e-cargo bikes. They must still meet weight and dimension limits to be used. Here is an example of what a commercial e-cargo bike could look like:

A man using a large, commercial e-cargo bike for Purolator.


Rules of the road


E-bikes and bicycle users follow the same road rules. However, the rules for e-cargo bike users differs slightly, so be sure to familiarize yourself with them before heading out.

Personal e-cargo bikes can travel anywhere a conventional bicycle can, including multi-use pathways. Commercial e-cargo bikes must be ridden on bike lanes or roads and are not permitted to use multi-use pathways. All e-cargo bikes are not permitted on the highway, sidewalks or pathways.

You can also carry passengers on an e-cargo bike designed for this purpose. Operators and all e-cargo bike passengers must wear a helmet and the operator must be 16 years of age or older.

Remember to always follow the rules of road and practice safe cycling habits. To find more details about the rules for using e-cargo bikes and what we’re doing to make our roads safer, visit the Cycling and Safety page on ottawa.ca.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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