Electronic bicycles are starting to get popular by the minute, and the trend shows that its popularity will not slow down. The European market predicts that usage will at least triple in the next three to five years. As more people are starting to use transport vehicles that use electric power due to environmental reasons, questions remain about how these vehicles are classified, as well as their relative health benefits compared to its traditional counterpart.
When is an electronic bicycle not an electronic bicycle?
E-bikes are considered as regular, non-assisted two-wheelers in Great Britain. Still, if they have electrical assistance when traveling at 25 kilometers per hour or 15.5 miles per hour, have a motor that generates at least 250 Watts of power, or assisted by a motor and can move without the help of the bike’s manual pedal, the device will be legally treated as a motorcycle or moped.
These powered bikes are subject to different regulatory frameworks. So, because it is considered a bicycle, users do not need to have a driving license. As long as the device complies with the restriction listed, users do not need a driving license to operate e-bikes.
Visit this site to find out more about how to get a driving license in UK.
People can ride on bike paths, roads, and other places where two-wheelers are allowed under Great Britain laws. People do not need to register their devices as they would a motor vehicle like motorbikes or mopeds. They are also not required to get their e-bikes insured or wear a specific helmet.
Another thing, the law states that users need to be at least 15 years old to ride it on public roads. According to the law, people need to be at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle or moped in the United Kingdom, but it was reduced to 14 years for e-bikes taking into consideration their lower level of power.
What if the electric two-wheeler does not meet the requirement set by the government?
If the rider wants to use it on public highways, they will need to register their electric two-wheeler with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Not only that, but they will also need a driving license, insurance policy, and wear the proper helmet like what they wear when driving a moped or motorcycle.
Does this make any e-bike that does not comply with the government restrictions illegal?
It is not illegal to own this type of two-wheeler with a power output of more than 250 Watts, or where electric assistance does not cut off at 25 kilometers per hour. But it is illegal to ride it like you’re riding a standard bike (without it being insured and registered as a moped), on public highways.
It includes both off-road and road right of way like byways and bridleways. Electronic bicycles that don’t conform to rules and regulations can only be used on private lands where public vehicles do not have access, of course, with permission from the landowner.
What’s the position in Northern Island?
Northern Ireland has the same legal position as the rest of the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland Assembly recently passed the EAPC Regulations 2020 (Use and Construction) which updated the outdated law. At the same time, the Northern Ireland Assembly had not been missing the opportunity to bring this law in line with other countries.
Check out https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/product-safety/electrically-assisted-pedal-cycles for more information about EAPC 2020.
Is there a separate regulation or law for twist-and-go electronic bikes?
Some of these devices do not need to have their pedals in motion for its motor to move. Some companies produce two-wheelers that were controlled by the throttle. It can be twisted to turn on, without pedaling, hence it was called a twist-and-go bike.
New models are now categorized under European Union law under the L1e-A category or powered cycles, that allocates power to at least 1,000 Watts. It means that these machines are not regulated, or classed as conventional cycles, but its exact requirement for registering in the United Kingdom remains unclear.
The legal position complicates everything since manufacturers limited twist-and-go machines bought before the establishment of new laws and its motor power to 250 Watts. Because of these requirements, it remains effectively legal to be used on public roads, and they can be bought as used without any problems from the regulatory agencies.
How to tell if a machine falls foul of the law and regulations or not? In practice, most new electronic bicycle in the United Kingdom is built for Europeans, and so, it needs to comply with the European Union standard. People need to look for the CE conformity logo to confirm that the product has passed standard tests set by the commission.
Looking at the size and shape of the machine does not tell the users all the specifications of their device. Based on the Use and Construction regulations defined by the legal safety criteria for bicycles, the most important partis that it should be fitted with a plate or sticker showing the name of the manufacturer, and the power output needs to default to its off-setting so that there will be no power assistance without the user pedaling. These are the things you need to check before going for U.K electric bike shopping or purchasing a second-hand one.
Is it safer to use compared to regular mechanical ones?
There is no statistical evidence from DFT or Department for Transport that shows accident figures that show all cycles and not just electronic bikes, are not a risk (or at least the risk is small) to themselves, as well as other road users. According to recent police reports sent to the Department for Transport, every year, on Great Britain highways and roads:
At least 98% of injured motorists are hurt in collisions with motorized vehicles.
At least 2% of injured motorists are hurt in collisions that involve cycles.
More or less 99.3% of death on the road involve collisions with a motorized vehicle. More than 400 people every year, or 150 times the number of people who died after a collision involving a cycle.
At least 0.7% of road deaths involve collisions with people on a bicycle – fewer compared to three years ago.
More or less 90% of seriously injured motorists are hurt in a collision with motorized vehicles (more than 5,000 people every year).
At least 2% of seriously injured motorists are hurt in collisions that involve cycles (124 people each year).
Taking the facts into consideration, motorized vehicles cover more kilometers per year compared to cycles:
Per BVM or Billion Vehicle Miles traveled on roads, where pedestrians and cycles usually mix densely, cycles are believed to be less likely compared to other types of vehicles that were involved in collisions in which the motorist dies.Heavy vehicles like coaches, buses, or HGVs, present a bigger threat statistically.