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Richmond delivery drivers stuck in middle of e-bike road rules confusion

A spokesperson for food delivery app Fantuan said ICBC confirmed no licences or insurance were needed
A Fantuan delivery scooter spotted in Richmond. Vikki Hui photo

Major confusion has emerged over what types of scooters or bikes need to be licensed and insured after police ticketed two Fantuan delivery drivers in Richmond.

The Richmond News reported earlier this week how police stopped two Fantuan drivers within an hour for driving their delivery vehicles without a valid licence or insurance.

More officers were called to the scene when one behaved “extremely confrontational” to a Richmond RCMP officer, resulting in a large police presence in the area.

One reason for the driver’s behaviour, said Fantuan spokesperson Crystal Li, could be ICBC and RCMP’s “inconsistent” messaging about the rules and regulations for motor-assisted cycles.

“When we inquired with ICBC, we were told that our vehicles fall into the right category and do not need any licensing and insurance, but evidently RCMP takes a different position on this matter,” said Li.

According to the food delivery app’s guidelines for delivery drivers, their electric bikes are required to be “pedal-assist, with motors of less than 500W, and have a maximum speed of less than 32km/h,” as set out in the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation.

Drivers are required to wear bike helmets and be at least 16 years old but do not need a licence or insurance to operate their electric bikes.

Li told the News that Fantuan had checked with ICBC after “a similar incident back in 2021,” and was told that their electric bikes do not need “any type of licensing and insurance.”

More ‘concrete’ guidelines needed: Fantuan

When contacted for clarification, an ICBC spokesperson directed the News to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which governs vehicle safety standards.

The News has reached out to the ministry for comment but did not receive the information by publication deadline.

Richmond RCMP, on the other hand, referred the News to a 2020 B.C. Supreme Court decision convicting a man for driving a scooter without a licence and insurance.

In R v Ghadban, the judge found the vehicle in question was an electric scooter, not a motor assisted cycle, because its wheels were smaller than 350 millimeters and the pedals were limited in use.

The decision was upheld in the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2021.

Li told the News that the delivery company plans to cooperate “fully” with the authorities and “take appropriate measures based on their findings,” but wishes for “more concrete guidelines” going forward.

She added that Fantuan drivers are issued warning letters for wrongdoings including traffic violations, and may be fired if they receive more than three complaints.

“We apologize for any concerns that may have arisen due to this incident and appreciate the community’s understanding,” said Li, adding that the public is welcome to contact Fantuan with their concerns and feedback.

“We will enhance our internal processes and safety reminders to prevent such incidents from happening in the future, especially the driving on sidewalk issue.”

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