A new inquiry conducted by the Bicycle Association has uncovered a variation in UK and Northern Irish law that may have serious implications for dealers.
According to the inquiry, UK EAPC – Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle – regulations that exempt e-bikes from being treated as motorbikes do not apply in Northern Ireland.
When asked by the BA if the variation in e-bike law meant users would require a driving licence, insurance, tax and an approved motorcycle helmet, a representative from the Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation Division confirmed that this is the case: “I appreciate that this is not the answer you want, but an EAPC in NI is classed as a motor vehicle and therefore would put in the motorcycle licence category.”
The representative went on to add that legislation to bring Northern Ireland’s e-bike laws into line with the UK is currently being written: “I am currently working on drafting legislation to bring NI into line with the rest of the UK on this matter but there is the added concern that in Northern Ireland, we have been without an Assembly or Executive since January.
“All policy and legislation has to go through the necessary Assembly approval in order to become law. Without that system or even Direct Rule from Westminster in place, we are unable to proceed with the implementation of legislation to exempt EAPCs from licensing, registration and tax requirements.”
When pressed on advice for current e-bike dealers in Northern Ireland, the representative stated the RSVRD’s position: “The Department’s advice for EAPC sellers would be that they must highlight to any customers wishing to use these vehicles in NI that they must register their vehicle through DVLA in Swansea. Customers must also be made aware that they will have to tax and insure these vehicles in order to use them on NI roads. Sellers can advise customers that the Department is working to resolve this issue and will implement legislation to exempt EAPCs from registration and licensing requirements when the NI Assembly has reconvened.”
The above information is applicable only for e-bike users, and type apporval is still only required on 'twist and go' type electrical systems.