Ceri Woolsgrove, ECF, March2012
The bicycle is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t require a license plate, driver’s license, helmet, nor insurance. Riders travel on a healthy and environmentally friendly machine and have a freedom of choice that no other mode of transport offers. EPAC’s (Pedelecs) Electric Power Assisted Cycles help provide this freedom along with the health benefits for those who find it diffifcult to ride a bicycle or who live in hilly areas.
EPAC’s are essentially bicycles as long as they have bicycle qualities. This is currently enshrined in the law and has worked brilliantly. More powerful machines are regulated more strictly under Type Approval, and bicycles (including the EPAC’s) are regulated outside Type Approval as lighter machines.
Currently there is legislation being created that could change the way we define and look at the bicycle. High powered EPAC/s, electric scooters, eBikes, ‘twist and go’ machines without any power limit will be able to occupy the same position as the bicycle on the roads, in our regulations and in our legal definitions. This would have serious consequences for future bicycle policy; road safety; the bicycle economy; future rules on helmets, licence and insurance.
See here for more detail - EPAC’s brief
What is a Pedelec or EPAC?
Pedelecs (Pedal Electic Assisted Cycles) or EPACS (Electronic Power Assisted Cycles) are much like bicycles however when pedaling the rider gets progressive assistance from the electric drive system. Pedelecs enjoy the same privileges as bicycles. They can use bicycle infrastructure and do not require helmet laws nor insurance. They are regulated by the European Standards Organisation CEN and through the Machinery Directive while scooters and more powerful machines are regulated through Type Approval.
To qualify as EPAC’s they must satisfy three bicyle like qualities
These are not arbitrary numbers, the power and speed are those of a thoroughly competent cyclist, the use of pedals and the progressive assistance mean that there is the connection between the forward movement and the muscle power.
What Changes Are Being Proposed?
Changes are currently being proposed to alter the very definition of a bicycle.
The European Parliament are looking to change the exemptions to Type Approval. In other words what divides a bicycle/EPAC from a scooter/moped
If changes in legislation go ahead:
ECF is concerned that current cyclists will be endangered by inexperienced riders on faster machines which will now be able to share bicycle infrastructure with other riders.
We’re also concerned about the safety of these new riders (without having to conform to license, insurance and helmet rules) and on machines that have not been Type Approved. A more powerful e-Bike will have much higher levels of torque and acceleration from a standing start and will be very dangerous at intersections. 75% of cycling accidents already occur at junctions and this figure may just get higher. You can find an ECF brief here EPAC’s brief that explains many of the safety issues as well as the problems this will raise in terms of damaging the EU bicycle and EPAC economy.
The European Cyclists’ Federation brings together 60 member groups from 36 countries, the consumers and users of bicycles and ≤250 watt Pedelecs (also often called EPAC’s). Our aim is to ensure that bicycle use is safe and that it achieves its fullest potential so as to bring about sustainable mobility and public well-being.
We have major concern with a proposal, currently at IMCO Committee stage in the European Parliament, on the approval and market surveillance of two and three wheel vehicles and quadricycles (COM 2010 542). Amendments 16 and 19 in the consolidated text call for ≤25 kph but unlimited-power EPACs and unlimited-power eBikes (without pedals but under 25 kg) to be exempt from the Type Approval Regulation.
This means that higher powered EPAC’s and higher powered eBikes will no longer need to be regulated by strict Type Approval, but will rather be regulated in the same way as lowered powered EPAC’s and bicycles. This would lead to an influx of cheaper, inferior, but more powerful machines onto the market with lower levels of regulation.
As representatives of the consumers and users of the bicycle and pedelec one of our major concerns is with safety, with the bicycle itself and also with the infrastructure that our members ride on. We believe that exempting Pedelecs and eBikes under 25 kph but without a power limit from the legislation would have very serious consequences for cyclists, and indeed for all road users.
The following addresses our main safety concerns
· There will be a high increase in the relative speed on hills
o Going uphill an eBike will be able to achieve a speed of 25kmh while the rest of the cycle traffic has considerably slowed. Increased divergence of speeds means a greater risk of accident
o Once the eBike has reached 25 kph the engine will cut out, and re-engage with a greater ‘jolt’ than bikes with much higher wattage. This could have significant consequences uphill.
o They will come down the hill much quicker with a greater weight after building up speed uphill
· Despite some maintaining that speed should be the only factor determining vehicle safety, a more powerful eBike will have much higher levels of torque and acceleration from a standing start, and will cause accidents at junctions where 75% of cycling accidents already occur
· However we also think that speed will be greater with more powerful motors
o The average speed over the whole journey will be higher
o The extra jolt will propel a higher powered eBike faster before the 25 kph cut off than the lower powered bike
· There is a big difference in controlling the propulsion of a bike with human muscle power and using an electric motor; one is to be ridden the other is to be driven as such there should be a difference in regulation such as a driving licenses/helmets etc. for motorised vehicles that are not in line with muscle powered, or progressively motor assisted lower powered, bikes/Pedelecs
· Related to this theme; power, far in excess of what a cyclist can usually command gives faster acceleration. This would make the movements of the motorised cycle harder for another cyclist or a pedestrian to predict, leading to mistakes and accidents
· These bikes are, as readily admitted by the eBike industry, to be marketed at elderly and disabled users, the very users who would be most at risk
· Similarly a child could just as easily obtain such a bike and then be in control of 1000 Watts of power
The motors and engines that are used today are very difficult to tamper with; Chinese vehicles that will flood the market if these amendments are allowed to stand will not have the same sophistication. One of the reasons why progressive assistance does not need type approval is because that progressive assistance and the sophistication of the motor and software make them very difficult to tamper with. More powerful eBikes that do not have this progressive assistance, that have a throttle and have more powerful motors must remain in Type Approval and must have regulation of tamper resistance on a par with other more powerful mopeds and scooters.
European bicycle industry
In Europe the estimated sales of EPAC’s for this year are estimated at 900,000 cycles, of which 500,000 are made in Europe. Chinese companies are usually manufacturing cheap, more powerful bikes (both EPAC and eBike) in large quantities (estimated at 20 million). The impact of the adoption of this Type Approval would have a very negative industrial impact on the EU’s EPAC manufacturing industry. It would be subsumed by cheaper, unsafe imports, thousands of green jobs would go and a major section of our green economy would be dictated by cheap imports from outside Europe. The EU bicycle and EPAC industry is the largest employer of the green industries in Europe with over 60,000 green jobs (direct and indirect). This is not a sustainable situation; cheaper is not better. National member states will clamp down on these machines (many council members are against this proposition already) and different states will make their own regulations. This will create a patchwork regulation across Europe which will make it more difficult for the industry, from within and outside Europe, to build vehicles for its market.
Japan’s EPAC market has the same regulatory conditions as that currently active in Europe. This is working well (as is the current EU regulation) an aging Japanese market are using EPAC’s up to 250 watt as a way of using sustainable, and healthy, mobility; and there has been no cry from Japanese industry or for that matter the retailers for more powerful machines.
סין: בגלל השקט – לא לאופניים חשמליים
Presto Cycling Policy Guide - Electric Bicycles
דיון בפורום אופניים ב"תפוז": ערכה לאופניים חשמליים מחו"ל
דיון בגרופי: מישהו מכיר חנות לאופניים חשמליות 500 וואט ומעלה? דיון בגרופי: צריך מידע על אופניים חשמליים אופניים חשמליים והחוק המשמעות של הספק המנוע באופניים חשמליים שיפור ביצועים של קורקינטים חשמליים