Cargo e-bikes get green light from City of Toronto

On June 8, 2021, Toronto City Council approved a plan to update City of Toronto bylaws to allow for the continued use of cargo e-bikes that support businesses in meeting unprecedented demand for local deliveries while also making way for a new micromobility pilot for larger cargo e-bikes.

The proposal received letters of support from UTTRI associated faculty Professor Matthew Roorda, Canada Research Chair, Freight Transportation and Logistics, and Chair of the Smart Freight Centre; The Bike Brigade; The Pembina Institute; and Cycle Toronto.

In his letter of support, Roorda says that greener transportation modes, such as cargo e-bikes for last-mile delivery, are  proactive steps for the environment and will open up research opportunities:

“It is no longer news that we are already behind in the race to battle climate change. As such, we must act aggressively and proactively to protect the environment. One such way is to adopt and promote alternative transportation modes, including Cargo E-bikes for last mile delivery.

“This [approval] will enable our current [City Logistics for the Urban Economy] research to proceed with pilot research programs with Cargo E-Bikes on the U of T Campus. This work will positively impact consumer access and drive new business opportunities. At the same time, it has the potential of significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

“There is immense opportunity in this area, we voice our full support for the ongoing policy developments in our city to enable a pilot program Cargo E-bikes of >120kg and up to 1000w in the near future.” – Professor Matthew Roorda, Canada Research Chair, Freight Transportation and Logistics

Professor Roorda and Dr. Ahmed Lasisi from University of Toronto, and Professor Kevin Gingerich from York University, are developing cargo tricycle initiatives on the U of T and York University campuses as part of the City Logistics in the Urban Economy (CLUE) project.

In March 2021, the Province of Ontario introduced a new cargo e-bike regulation and pilot for Ontario municipalities. The provincial pilot requires that municipalities choose to opt-in and change their bylaws to allow for use of any cargo e-bike weighing over 55 kilograms on public streets including bike lanes and cycle tracks.

As part of the provincial pilot, the City has an opportunity to potentially allow for larger cargo e-bikes weighing more than 120 kilograms to be piloted. A pilot project with larger cargo e-bikes would allow the City to evaluate use and impacts of such e-bikes in Toronto. The provincial O. Reg 141/21 Pilot Project – Cargo Power-Assisted Bicycles is available online.

“More people than ever are shopping locally online and relying on quick and efficient delivery services to get their purchases in a timely fashion. Cargo e-bikes represent a great opportunity for local businesses to meet that demand in a way that is environmentally responsible and helps reduce traffic congestion.” – Mayor John Tory

“Continuing to allow cargo e-bikes on Toronto’s streets and cycling infrastructure can help reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance how goods are moved throughout the city.” – Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

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