by Carlton Reid, 20/11/2012
In a vote held this afternoon the European parliament retained 'Type Approval' procedures meaning bicycles are bicycles.
The European Parliament has this afternoon voted for a clear separation between active and passive transport.
Under current EU legislation, e-bikes, known officially as electronically power assisted cycles (EPACs) or pedelecs, are limited to 250 watts. They must propel the rider at no more than 25kph.
In today's vote at the European Parliament, MEPs decided to keep the original European Commission proposal: Only pedelecs with a maximum speed of 25 km/h and 250 watts power will remain exempt from motorbike regulation. If MEPs had voted the other way, bicycle riders may have become subject to motorbike-style rules and may have been forced to wear helmets, pay vehicle license fees and have compulsory insurance.
The European Cyclists' Federation welcomed the vote, seeing it as a clear separation between bicycles and motorbikes.
“We need a clear border line between what a bicycle is and what exceeds the definition of a ‘bicycle’,” explains Ceri Woolsgrove, ECF’s Road Safety Officer.
“This is important for clear decisions on the use of infrastructure and facilities for bicycles that authorities have to make on the international, national, regional and local level.”
There had been previous calls for pedelecs with unlimited output to be exempt from Type Approval procedures, meaning more powerful machines would not be subject to more rigorous testing. ECF, alongside industry groups such the UK's Bicycle Association, and Brussels-based Colibi and Coliped, lobbied for legislation to remain the same.
“It’s a good thing that the exemptions to this legislation for electric bicycles remain unchanged,” said Woolsgrove.
“The minute you start changing the definition of a bicycle, you’re opening up cycling to a whole range of nasty legislation. It could mean compulsory helmets, insurance, licensing to name but a few of the negative consequences. You don’t want to damage the reputation of cycling, and lose all the wonderful benefits that cyclists’ have.”
Under current legislation, e-bikes have been a huge success story in Europe, with over 700,000 units sold in 2011. In Germany alone, there are already one million pedelecs in use, with 310,000 sold last year. This is in stark contrast with electric cars, which managed to sell just over 11,500 vehicles in Western Europe last year despite large subsidies.
The Parliament vote still needs be ratified by the European Council, but this is generally seen as a formality. Other countries have seen EU legislation as the best way to regulate bicycles, with Australia recently adopting EU style electric bicycle legislation.
Tags:E-Bike , ebikes , EU , European Cyclists Federation , type approval , pedelecs