Cornwall family protests e-bike passenger law

In this provided photo, Cole Holmes and his wife, Lisa Barnes, along with their children Serina, 13, and Aramis, 10, ride along the waterfront trail on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. The family is protesting an e-bike law they call discriminatory that all passengers of e-bikes have to be at least 16 years old. (Cole Holmes via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A Cornwall family are riding their e-bikes with their children as underage passengers every weekend to protest a law they call “discriminatory” against e-bikers.

Cole Holmes and his wife, Lisa Barnes, along with their children – 13-year-old Serina and 10-year-old Aramis – rode their e-bikes along the waterfront trail from Cornwall to Long Sault this past weekend.

They call themselves “law abiding citizens” who have “obeyed the law up to this point” and operate their e-bikes at a safe and responsible speed, especially with their children on board.

A picture of the family appears to show them following all of the laws, such as helmet use, except for one. They defied a Highway Traffic Act law that all operators and passengers on e-bikes have to be at least 16 years old, provided the e-bike is equipped to carry passengers.

“This is a discriminatory act put in place against e-bikes and we have had enough of the mistreatment,” Cole Holmes wrote in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.

The family says they moved to Cornwall from Quebec about a year-and-half ago and noted that the city “was big on e-bikes” so they bought a pair of two-wheelers to go on tours, take their children for picnics and enjoy area parks along the waterfront trail.

“If you can put a 7-year-old on the back of a motorcycle or a baby (in a bike seat) on the back of a bicycle, then we should be allowed to take our children on the path with our bikes,” he said.

They also accuse the Cornwall Police Service of selective enforcement of the rules around e-bikes. “Other e-bike riders with their children drive right past police and one day it’s fine, no problems, others right away they get pulled over,” Holmes wrote.

Holmes and Barnes plan to ride from St. Lawrence College to Floral Drive at Guindon Park for a picnic “every weekend from now on” to make a point.

“Laws must be fair and just, if they are not (to a particular group) then it’s unlawful and unfair,” Holmes said.

Holmes says he contacted Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement Friday to express his concerns.

“If I’m ticketed we will be fighting it in court.”