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European Parliament Agrees that E-Bike Safety Depends on Speed, Not Power

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BRUSSELS Belgium – It’s not finalized yet, but there may be a breakthrough in the European discussion on the technical rules for electric bicycles. It could mean among other things that pedelecs with assistance up to 25 km/h will be excluded from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles irrespective of their power output. As a result, they would be classified as bicycles, whereas today above 250 W they are considered mopeds.

Yesterday, the European Parliament Commission for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted on the review of the type-approval of mopeds and motorcycles. The MPE’s voted on Rapporteur van de Camp’s report on the Commission’s proposal as well as on all the amendments to his report. Quite a few of these amendments originated from the position paper of the European Two-Wheelers Retailers’ Association (ETRA).

They were generally aimed at improving the regulations for the benefit of electric bikes so that they would no longer obstruct the development of the market. One of the amendments in particular was aimed at the exclusion from the type-approval of all electric pedal assisted cycles with assistance up to 25 km/h without specification of a motor output limit, because speed and not power is the determining safety factor.

A majority of IMCO members voted in favour of this exclusion. As a result, pedelecs with a motor output of more than 250 W would no longer have to be type-approved and would no longer be classified as mopeds but as bicycles. They would become subject to the Machinery and EMC Directive. This should result in a bigger offer and a wider usage for instance for people suffering from obesity, three-wheelers developed for physically impaired people, vehicles developed to transport cargo of for hilly areas etcetera.

The revision of the type approval for mopeds and motorcycles including electric bicycles caused controversy between industry associations COLIBI/COLIPED and the one for cyclists ECF on the one hand and trade association ETRA on the other hand. COLIBI/COLIPED and ECF wanted to make sure that the market remains limited to bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and a motor output limit of 250W. Both industry organizations were in favour of maintaining the current specifications as described in the Directive 2002/24/EC.

“Terrific news,” said Annick Roetynck, ETRA general secretary on the breakthrough in ‘BOVAGkrant’, a publication of the Dutch dealer association BOVAG which is a prominent ETRA member. She continued: “We had to lobby hard for this result the past months. I am glad that the politicians understood that more powerful motors of which the assistance is limited to a speed of 25 km/h, do not jeopardize safety but instead greatly enhance the possible usage of electric bikes.”

As said 25 km/h pedelecs with more motor output are not a reality yet. In a plenary session  scheduled to take place in March 2012 the whole European Parliament will vote on it. Furthermore, the European Council, which is made up of the 27 member states also have to have a say on it.


by Bike Europe last update:4 Jan 2012

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  • # 1

    Pere Pi Parera

    I suggest:
    a).- 250W = 25 Kms. x hour (like are now)
    b).- 500W = 35 Kms. x hour with helmet and no diring for bicycle ways.
    c).- 1.000W = 45 Kms. x hour (like moppeds - motos 500 cc.) with helmed and no riding for bicycles ways.
  • # 2

    Derrick Murphy

    thats great news for hills both on us and the terrain
  • # 3

    David B

    I suggest
    Helmet in any conditions of using.
    Just for cicling safety
  • # 4

    Mike G

    Great news for those of us who want to be able to bicycle like the terrain is flat in hilly areas, or carry a heavier load. Too bad it's going to take so long!
  • # 5

    Chris Juden

    If this results in a blurring of the distinction that presently holds, between cycles that are mostly human powered and those that are mostly electric, it will become difficult for cycling organisations to discriminate between users of vehicles that are genuinely bicycle-like and those that may have an accelleration and hill-climbing capability that greatly exceeds the average un-assisted rider.

    If we do not wish to extend our remit to electric mopeds, we will be obliged to withdraw the welcome presently extended to users of any electrical assistance whatsoever.

    If, as suggested above, these vehicles may be used to introduce compulsory helmets into the cycling sphere, we shall need a firm fence to stand behind. If the one we thought we had at 250W is demolished by EC, we shall have to make a strategic retreat and build a stronger one at zero watts.
  • # 6

    John B

    Chris Juden - I think your bicycle clips are too tight! Your point is purely to promote discrimination. No part of this proposal mentions cycle helmets, compulsory or otherwise. It is all about widening the appeal and usefulness of electric bicycles without compromising safety. Not least, it will also enable many people currently unable to enjoy conventional non-powered cycles to ride a bike. Try to see beyond your own narrow view - cycling should be inclusive and not partitioned by your fences.
  • # 7


    Chris Juden,

    Who are you? God of all that goes on two wheels?

    Withdraw behind your tired ass 0 Watt fence and leave the world open for people to be free, shouldn't bother me a bit. People like you are why the rest of the world thinks bikers are pricks.

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