A Canadian man is fighting in court for his right to ride a power-assisted electric bicycle. Chesley Earle, 25, who has a disability that impairs his ability to stand for long periods or walk long distances, saved his money for months to buy a bike powered by pedaling and electricity. He uses his bike to drive through the city of Corner Brook, which is located on the west coast of Newfoundland in eastern Canada.
He was stopped by the police – the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary – on his first day of riding the power-assisted bike and was charged on four counts, including riding without a proper "license" and registration. On August 30, he appeared in court with his uncle Michael Earle assisting him to fight fines that added up to $3,000 in Canadian dollars.
The bike is electric and pedal-driven and has a top speed of 25 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour), compared to gasoline-driven mopeds with pedals that can go as fast as 70 or 80 km/h (43-50 mph), Michael Earle told CBC News. The bike gave his nephew the freedom to travel around Corner Brook, visit his grandmother and to go swimming in the park. "The bike sort of opened up the world for him," his uncle said.
The RNC officer charged that Earle's bike, like motorcycles, require a license and registration. The family did its own legal research and disagreed, so they entered a not guilty plea. "We discovered there is nothing out there on any documents in federal, provincial or town documents stating that these bikes aren't allowed on the streets of Newfoundland and Labrador," Michael Earle said.
The case will come back to the court again on December 19.