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Electric bicycles with assistance beyond 25 km/h will be treated as light mopeds

— “Electric bikes have opened cycling to a whole range of people,” says Senator.

Faster electric bicycles — known as speed-pedelecs — will be treated as light mopeds under new Irish law next year. This includes following the requirements around insurance and licensing.

The motor limit for normal ‘pedelecs’, or pedal-assist electric bicycles, is 25 km/h, after that the motor cuts off and stops helping. These lower-powered pedelecs are and will still be treated as normal bicycles in the eyes of the law.

However, with speed-pedelecs, the motor cutout ranges from somewhere between 35km/h to 45 km/h depending on the bike. The law will classify these higher-power bikes as light mopeds and require users to obey all the laws motorcycle users do.

The clarity in the law will be contained in the long-awaited Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021, which is expected to pass the Seanad this year and be signed into law next year.

There will be a three-month waiting time before the elements of the law covering electric scooters will come into effect, but the bicycle and related measures will be in effect once the law is signed.

In a Seanad debate on the issue last month, Eamon Ryan said: “We will continue to treat this kind of e-bike [where the motor cuts out at 25km/h] in the same way as an ordinary pedal bicycle, and the rules of the road for bicycles will apply accordingly. This type of e-bike will not require registration, taxation, or licensing.”

“High-powered e-bikes, which are those that can be used without pedalling or those that can reach speeds in excess of 25 km/h, will be treated in the same way as light mopeds and therefore will need to be registered, taxed and insured, and used only by an appropriately licensed driver.”

Minister Ryan said that ebikes are “capable of speeds up to 100 km/h in some cases”, but this is not the case for speed-pedelecs in Europe which are capped at 45km/h and not designed for much faster speeds.

There was some confusion in the debate about electric bicycles cutting out at 25km/h — this is not the case. The limit is not a speed limit but the speed at which the motor on the bicycle should stop helping.

Electric bikes extend the range of bicycles says Senator 

In the same debate, Senator Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein) outlined how she has personal experience with how electric bicycles extend the distance in which it is possible to cycle.

Senator Boylan said: “We all agree there needs to be a modal shift and every car we can take off the road is to the benefit of everyone. We have to make it the case that no one is forced to have a car. The current situation in Ireland is that there is forced car ownership; people have no other choice, particularly households in rural areas with two-car ownership that might be able to reduce to one car. It is important that we put in place anything that helps people who want to give up their car.”

“I do not see electric bikes as cheating, although the Senator is the second man I have heard say that in recent weeks. I say that because I am somebody who has recently got an electric bike. I am not a cyclist or a very confident cyclist, and I live 12 km out. Cycling is not something I would normally do for exercise and I much prefer to run. However, I did try cycling on the regular bike and it is just that little bit too far as it is uphill,” she said.

“Having the electric bike now, I am using it far more, first, coming into work every day because even if I am late leaving, I am getting home that bit quicker but, equally, I am able to use it for doing those other trips. We are all trying to get people out of their cars to do those short trips, such as going to do the weekly shop, where they normally would have needed a car.”

She added: “Again, with cycling, the weight was a bit too much, but with the electric bike, it is possible to do that. Electric bikes have opened cycling to a whole range of people, and I include myself in that, because it is much more accessible. Again, they are gentler on the body and people who are older and who might not physically be able to cycle a manual bike are able to cycle electric bikes.”

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13 comments

  1. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the current full e bikes on the road already especially ones used by teenagers

    Reply
  2. Great news, I’m after spending 5K on a bike that goes up to 45km/h (only when pedaling). I’m doing a 64km commute daily.
    I justified the purchase based on time savings every day vs using my normal bike and by return on investment when comparing with driving to work. That RoI is now out the window if I’ll have to pay extra taxes on it.

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    • Hi David, did the retailer make it clear that they are not allowed on Irish roads already?

      That’s the current status with our catch-all rules. The change is that the new system will just codify the status quo, and allow people to actually be able to pay the tax and buy insurance, which is next to impossible now.

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      • No, the opposite was stated actually. I was told in the shop that currently they were legal to use, including in cycle lanes. They also said that they have previously tried registering these bikes with the government and they were laughed at and told something along the lines of “it’s a bicycle you don’t need to register it”. Purchased in GreenAer Sandyford.

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      • Think you have it confused Cian.

        They are legal to use, on private land or If you register them. But current legislation only allows for them to be registered as AM category. Which is pointless as this encompasses mopeds not s-pedelecs. Which would involve insurance costs similar to mopeds. At current state of policing of anything in this country, I find it implausible anyone would get stopped for pedaling a bike too fast. Also, If you bought something you have already paid tax, and motor tax is only charged on ICE vehicles. Not electric. So really the only difference will be, cost of insurance. In many EU countries mopeds under 50cc and s-pedelecs are allowed in cycle lanes etc. So If IRL gov goes against it would be another step back.

        All this is hypothesis as there is no current law anyway.

        I have been using s-pedelecs for 7 years in and around Dublin. Was never stopped. Or questioned in this regard. Was stopped for dangerous riding not for using a fast bike. This was never even a topic.

        Gards know nothing. They let Fiido users with full Throttles roam free at 60kmh. You can stand in city and spot gardai and youths oblivious of each other.

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        • @DBL — I’m only really concerned with road traffic, as is the bill with that as part of its name. None of my comments are about what happens within off-roads.

          You’re correct that there is a lack of enforcement and enforcement would likely require specialist knowledge that most Gardai, or a google search of the make a model of the bike and a basic knowledge, anyway…

          Regarding what’s planned — the article outlines what the Minister has said. You can look back on the KildareStreet.ie link to check that. But ultimately, yes, we’ll see for sure when the bill becomes an act and us signed into law.

          Regarding the current law, there’s a lot of international industry-level misinformation over years about this, not just in Ireland but it seems elsewhere too. I’m saying misinformation rather than disinformation as it’s hard to get a fix on how much of it was the industry not really caring about different laws across member states rather than going out of their way to misinform retailers and consumers.

          Like some other countries, we have a catch-all law on what is and what is not a motor vehicle. This is why mopeds aren’t legal without tax etc, and s-pedelecs fall under the sand trucks currently.

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        • As I understand it electric vehicles are taxed at the lowest band of €120, same as lowest emissions of ICE.

          Just because one form of tax is paid on purchase of a bike (namely VAT), does not mean that you are not liable to pay other taxes after the fact, such as road tax which may become the case. However it is understandable that you may not have a firm grasp on the Irish tax laws.

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            • Sure thing, if you wish to be a pedant about it Irish Motor Tax it is then. And yes, €35 is the band for electric motor cycle, not the ICE band you reffered to initially.
              If 35 is basically free I’ll be sure to deduct it from my next bill Joe.

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  3. I think the gov are really messing this up. If they make fast e-bikes the same category as AM, then I can’t wait to see a line of people every morning centre of the road holding up cars. Because under these rules they are not allowed to use a bike lane. Best of luck trying to get above 50kmh, 35kmh if there is a bill involved. Won’t work and won’t be enforced properly. I own a fast ebike and have absolutely no plans to ever insure or tax it. If I get stopped they can take it. Be cheaper to just buy a new one considering what they are currently charging people for mopeds. The sad part is people will play along and try to do it by the rules when we should all just refuse to point blank and continue to cycle them illegally.

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  4. There needs to be serious consequences for theft of these bikes which are getting moe and more expensive. More cameras need to watch bike stands.

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  5. No problem paying tax but cycling on a road at 35km/hr that is 50k limit with cars doing 80 to 100k. No thanks especially if there is a cycle lane. You will be blown out of it. They need to think this out a bit better.

    Reply

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