Cycle Industry News)
In the less than 24 hours it’s been live, the reaction has been phenomenal and for good reason; there’s a lot of false information circulating already. (In fact, I’ll hold my hands up and say that our initial headline wasn’t perfectly phrased, though it’s now edited to reflect the reality).
“If today`s proposal becomes a law, third-party liability insurance will be required that would discourage millions of European citizens to use pedelec, undermine the efforts and investments of several member states and the European Union to promote sustainable mobility,” states Adam Bodor advocacy director of the European Cyclists` Federation.
The key word there is IF.
At this stage the proposal is just that. No law has, at present, changed and it looks very much as though member states could veto any cementing of a poorly considered action to move forwards with the draft. Brexit, in theory, could hand the UK it’s own destiny, though thus far legislation has voluntarily fallen in line with mainland Europe for a number of reasons.
“I can reassure members that it remains legal to use e-bikes in the UK without motor vehicle insurance. The article is based on a proposal which has been made by the European Commission for reform of the Motor Insurance Directive,” said Peter Eland of the UK Bicycle Association.
The Bicycle Association, alongside a number of other trade representatives inside the UK and further afield, has long been battling such ideas, in fact this particular proposal to amend the Motor Insurance Directive has a near two-year history, says Eland.
Electric bikes are, against advice, included in the final formal proposal, that much is true. However, this proposal still has to pass The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, not to mention a chorus of bike, motorcycle and EV industry folk who will be opposing such a move. Indeed the latter’s concerns are already on the radar and noted in the proposal’s impact assessment.
So let’s look at the many fold reasons why this legislation in reality makes little sense:
Cities are choking with congestion and pollution, even the least green fingered politicians are accepting that point. To place a barrier in front of the uptake of clean and efficient transportation at this stage would be nonsensical. In the UK the Government has thus far failed to offer the same subsidy handed to electric car buyers to those utlising electric bikes, but the calls to incentive this are growing fast, as is the evidence that such a scheme works.
Next we have to consider just how many electric bikes already exist in the market, not to mention the enormous boon to business. In Holland, to give just one example, one in three new bike sales is now electric. 23.6% more people took home a pedal assist build comparing 2015 with the prior year. The growth curve continues.
Should the legislation come to fruition, 1.4 million electric bikes on the ground in Holland would require registration and, presumably, number plates to tally with their third-party insurance. That, we’d imagine, would be incredibly hard to enforce on a nation so smitten with the benefits that cycling culture has brought.
The EU’s own type approval regulation 168/2013, as it stands, specifically excludes compliant pedal-assisted builds from classification as motor vehicles. That, in theory, should further stop such an idea in its tracks.