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ST. CATHARINES, Ont. Rick Eybel is breathing a lot easier these days.

The Niagara Falls man spent six months with more than $11,000 in fines hanging over his head after being stopped by police while riding his e bike last November.

was going about 20 km/h and approaching Morrison Street, and I noticed a blue car following me. It was an unmarked cop car. They are pretty easy to pick out.

put his lights on and pulled me over. The officer said I went through a red light. I said, I didn he said, is your pedal? tried to explain to the officer the plastic part to fix the pedal was on order and due any day. He even called the owner of the e bike store on his cellphone from the scene to confirm it.

The police officer didn care, Eybel said. He wasn interested in hearing from the e bike shop owner.

He handed Eybel four tickets.

just went to town on me, Eybel said. thought it was totally wrong.

real kicker came when he said, the way, your bike is getting towed. I had to pay impound $360 to get it back.

was left standing there by the side of the road and wondering why the heck he was doing this to me. was in more trouble than he realized.

When he went to traffic court in St. Catharines to find out the details on the charges, he learned the fines totalled more than $11,000.

went and got my disclosure, and I said to the court lady, this has to be wrong; it must be a typo, Eybel said. thought it has to be $1,000, not $11,000. I told her it was nuts. I was flipping through the papers like crazy and wondering what the heck I was going to do. largest fine, $10,000, was for not having insurance on a vehicle. There was another one for almost $1,000 for driving with a suspended licence. His licence was suspended in 2011 for unpaid fines, he said, and court documents confirmed.

Police also charged him with running a red light.

officer just created all this havoc for me and then let the court sort it out, Eybel said. couldn believe it was happening.

went around to some lawyers. No lawyer wanted to touch it for less than $2,
Discount mulberry bag sale Outlet bike rider wins in court over
000 and I didn qualify for legal aid because all the Crown wanted was three months probation. Two grand is a lot for me.

read the officer report, and I found all these discrepancies. He didn put that I was on Morrison Street and that I had an advanced green light. I didn think it was right for him to say it wasn an e bike because the pedal was broken. with a sworn statement from the owner of the e bike store that the pedal was on order when police stopped him, a binder full of paperwork and photos of the intersection and his e bike, Eybel represented himself in court. He ended up winning using his own homespun charm.

On June 1, Justice of the Peace Nancy Rogers Bain agreed with him and tossed all the charges except for one, failing to notify the Ministry of Transportation he had changed his address. That fine was for $75.

was nervous, Eybel said. was afraid I was going to get crucified. I not a lawyer, but I figured I was doing the right thing, and that would carry me through. I was going to stand up for myself. the justice initially gave her verdict, Eybel thought he had lost.

was using technical words, and I had to ask her what was happening, he said. looked at me and said she was dropping the charges.

was a relief. I was impressed with the judge. She helped me along. She said she wasn allowed to give me any advice, but she helped with the procedure and stuff like that. Highway Traffic Act does not classify e bikes as motorized vehicles. You don need a driver licence or insurance. The bike must have pedals and can go faster than 42 km/h. The driver must be at least 16 years of age and wearing a helmet.

Problems occur when someone removes the pedals. The e bike no longer conforms to the Highway Traffic Act definition of a power assisted bicycle.

The officer and the Crown believed that since the pedal was broken, the e bike was a motorized vehicle, in essence, a motorcycle and Eybel needed a licence and insurance. The justice disagreed.

respect the court and the decision in this matter, Const. Phil Gavin of the NRP said. would direct you to the Crown office for further comment. provincial prosecutor office directed inquiries to the Crown law office at the Ministry of the Attorney General in Toronto.

this matter is within the appeal review period, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this case, said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the ministry.

Ray Hunt, owner and operator of Scoot A Long Smart Transportation Solutions in Niagara Falls, has been selling e bikes for 14 years and was among those who consulted with the province when officials were rewriting sections of the Highway Safety Act to deal with e bikes in 2006.

He sold Eybel his e bike from his shop on Ferry Street. He was on the phone when Eybel was trying to convince the officer the parts for the pedal were indeed on order.

haven noticed any patterns with the police, Hunt said. think this was probably an isolated incident. often than not, conflicts occur with regular drivers, not the police, Hunt said. It can be a jungle out there.
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