We reject power grab for electric bikes

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We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?

We have criticised government plans to double electric bikes’ power ratings.

Responding to a consultation by the Department for Transport,[1] we say that the proposals to enable higher-powered electrically-assisted pedal bicycles (EAPCs) on Britain’s highways are inappropriate and potentially harmful to users of the public rights of way network in England and Wales.

Says our case officer Hugh Craddock: ‘These proposals would double the power installed in EAPCs, and enable them to be operated almost entirely through a manual throttle (without the use of pedals). EAPCs can already be used lawfully on public bridleways and byways. The Department for Transport (DfT) has simply ignored the impact of its proposals on rights of way, and shows no signs of having conferred with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs—the department responsible for rights of way—before consulting publicly.’

Hugh continues: ‘Higher-powered and entirely mechanically-propelled riding of EAPCs poses risks for other path users—cyclists, walkers, those using disability buggies, and above all horse riders. The proposals make it all too likely that EAPC riders will pass other path users, particularly from behind, faster, silently, and without prior warning of their approach, causing at best startlement, and at worst, a rider being thrown from a horse or the EAPC-rider being kicked by it.

Hugh adds: ‘We support the use of higher-powered EAPCs as cargo-bikes, and by those with certain disabilities. But DfT should focus on changing the rules in these circumstances. DfT’s proposals blur the distinction between EAPCs and mopeds—yet the regulatory requirements for riding a moped are far more onerous[2] . DfT should start rural-proofing its proposals, and recognise that a tailored regime is needed for special uses of EAPCs, and that a one-size-fits-all policy will discourage rather than promote active travel in the countryside.’

[1] Smarter regulation: proposed changes to legislation for electrically assisted pedal cycles: the consultation closes on 25 April 2024.

[2] The rider of a moped must be over 16 years of age, hold a provisional licence (at least), pass a test within two years, hold insurance, and wear a helmet. A moped must not be ridden on a bridleway or restricted byway. None of these requirements applies to an EAPC rider (but the rider must be over 14 years of age).

Header image: Luca Beani

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