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E-bikes need number plates and insurance, say MPs and industry

11 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Floral tributes left to Kyrees Sullivan and Harvey Evans on Snowden Road, Ely. Photo Rod Minchin/PA Wire

Electric bikes must have number plates and insurance in order for pedestrians to be safe, Conservative MPs and the industry have said.

They want them to be regulated in the same way as other vehicles given the damage they can do if they hit someone.

E-bikes can weigh twice as much as a conventional bicycle and, while most cannot travel faster than 15.5mph by law, some have been modified to go much faster.

Children are allowed to ride them from the age of 14.

Ian Stewart, chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, told the Mail on Sunday: “There is a case for looking at insurance arrangements.

“I don’t think the regulations are a good fit for new technologies.

“It’s not just e-bikes, there are issues with e-scooters and driver-assist/self-driving technology increasingly embedded in cars.”

Regulation

Fellow committee member Greg Smith told the newspaper: “With more types of vehicle competing for road space, it is only fair that all users are treated equally.

“E-bikes and e-scooters can achieve considerable speeds and cause damage to other vehicles and injure people, so should have to carry the same insurance requirements and tax liabilities as users of motor cars.”

Tony Campbell, chief executive of the Motor Cycle Industry Association, which represents the sector, called for new laws to include anti-tampering measures to outlaw e-bikes being modified for faster speeds, telling the paper: “We are in favour of reviewing regulation as it is clear it is outdated.”

Danger

The calls come after Saul Cookson, 15, died when his e-bike crashed into an ambulance shortly after being followed by police in Salford, Greater Manchester, on Thursday.

Last month, Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15, were killed in Cardiff when riding a Sur-Ron electric bicycle through the Ely area of the city.

Claims they were being pursued by police sparked a riot in the area.

The potential danger of e-bikes were raised in a court case in 2020 following the death of 56-year-old pedestrian Sakine Cihan in August 2018, after she was knocked down and killed by a rider in Dalston, east London.

Thomas Hanlon was bought before the Old Bailey accused of causing her death by careless driving in what was believed to be the first case of its kind, but was cleared by a jury.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “There are strict laws in place around dangerous cycling and police have the power to prosecute if these are broken.

“While it is heavier vehicles that lead to increased maintenance costs by damaging roads, local highways are funded through general taxation which falls on all taxpayers, including those who cycle.”


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Steve Woods
Steve Woods
10 months ago

Iain Stewart, not Ian.

Sean Thompson
Sean Thompson
10 months ago

Most of the reporting of the tragic deaths of the three boys in the past week has been inaccurate and misleading. They were not riding ebikes – they were riding electric motor bikes. Ebikes (or ‘pedelecs’) have to be pedalled like any other bikes and aren’t allowed to have a throttle. The rider’s peddling efforts are assisted by a small electric motor up to a speed limit of 15.5 mph but if a bike has a throttle and/or gives assistance above the 15.5mph limit then it is classed as a moped and subject to the laws regulating mopeds. The vehicles… Read more »

wayne
wayne
10 months ago
Reply to  Sean Thompson

Some of you might remember the Puch motorcycle in the 1970’s. They had to be registered just like a motorbike. Where you had to pedal to assist the engine to go up hill.The law is in place as Milk Floats in the 1970’s were electric driven and had to be registered.

Blc
Blc
10 months ago
Reply to  Sean Thompson

All these kids died on Sur-Ron electric bikes. No Sur-Ron bikes have pedals, so they can’t even be classed as bicycles (whether electrically assisted or not). Regardless of what the manufacturer thinks, they are electric motorcycles and I *wish* people would highlight that in news reports. Please stop calling them e-bikes if they don’t even have pedals.

It doesn’t make the deaths of teenagers any less tragic, but kids illegally riding off-road bikes on public streets is not a new problem.

Windy
Windy
10 months ago

Its about time all cyclists should have compulsory third party insurance and wear hi vis clothing for their own safety as they seem to wear black or dark figure hugging Lycra making i difficult to be seen
Cyclists using shared pavements should remember that pedestrians have to be respected as far as right of way is concerned and a cursory ring of a bell doesn’t mean walkers have to jump out of the way of cyclists who don’t even slow down when passing them

Sean Thompson
Sean Thompson
10 months ago
Reply to  Windy

Of course, people riding cycles should, as the Highway Code mandates, take responsibility for ensuring that more vulnerable road users, i.e people on foot, should not be endangered by their actions. But we should remember that all road users share that responsibility that responsibility to take care of, and take notice of, road users who are more vulnerable – and pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders are all more vulnerable than card or truck drivers. As for the compulsory wearing of high vis clothing, counterintuitively, there’s no evidence that wearing such clothing has any effect on accident rates, which are overwhelmingly… Read more »

Windy
Windy
10 months ago
Reply to  Sean Thompson

Hi vis clothing has a proven track record for reducing accidents on building and civil engineering sites it just makes wearers easier to be seen and that time distance could be the deciding factor in the prevention of injury in collision

John Hammond
John Hammond
10 months ago

I wonder if it might help if the police didn’t go for the sport of chasing/following young people on e-bikes.

Diawl Blin
Diawl Blin
10 months ago
Reply to  John Hammond

They should do it a lot more. They’re an absolute menace where I live. I’m no fan of the police, but it’s hardly their fault that two idiots decide to ride a motorbike without helmets.

Diawl Blin
Diawl Blin
10 months ago

As do bikes

Julian Bond
Julian Bond
10 months ago

Are we talking about Bicycles, Kick scooters, Electric Bicycles, Electric kick scooters or Motorcycles. Because we already have regulations requiring training, safety gear, licensing, insurance, MOTs and plates for motorcycles. And all the recent high profile accidents have been kids riding electric motorcycles illegally.

Bicycles and E-Bicycles are correctly treated the same. There’s really no need for extra regulation for bicycles or for Electric Bicycles.

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