The British Heart Foundation has banned the use of electric bicycles from their annual London to Brighton ride.
In 2013, a team from electric bike retailer, Cycling Made Easy took part in the London to Paris off-road bike ride, raising £3000 for the British Heart Foundation. Half of the four man team used conventional bicycles, while the other half rode pedelecs.
These same fundraisers were informed that in the BHF London to Brighton event taking place this June, they would not be allowed to use e-bike assistance. In a u-turn by BHF officials, e-bikes have been denied entry into the popular event in 2016, despite e-bikes having the same legal classification as a conventional bicycle.
The decision is causing controversy amongst competitors as many people with cardiovascular conditions are able to ride electric bikes with arguably more freedom than with a conventional bike. By managing the ‘peak’ exertions required to accelerate or to climb uphill, an electric bike rider can maintain their physical activity for extended periods. Potential BHF fundraisers, cyclists with joint problems, asthma or fatigue conditions for example, will not be able to ride on e-bikes alongside more fortunate riders who are unaffected by the same issues.
Ray Wookey, director of Cycling Made Easy said: “I get a number of interesting emails when I’m at work, some of which astound me. Two recent emails have left quite an impression.The first read: “Two million pedelecs on the road in Germany”. That’s amazing. That’s two million people taking journeys without polluting the air, and getting exercise that they might not otherwise take.This figure shows that pedelec bikes are going to be the norm in mainland Europe in the near future. Seeing at first hand the growth in our own pedelec business, it won’t be long before it is the norm in the UK too.
"The second email left me reeling for other reasons. Sent to me by a representative of the British Heart Foundation, it read, “BHF has no plans to change its stance on allowing anything other than non-powered bikes into our events. The BHF inferred that pedelecs increase health and safety risks to participants. This is nonsense. I have no interest in selling anything which endangers others. Indeed, Cycling Made Easy takes a strong stance on anything which does increase risk in cycling – note our position on e-bike tuning kits.
"I had spoken directly to decision makers at the BHF last year who assured me that pedelecs would be allowed to join in their events; and why shouldn’t they? Pedelecs are legally classed as bicycles. That’s not just my opinion, that’s fact, not only here in the UK but across Europe. You can see why I am not only confused but frustrated by their decision, not least as I helped raise £3000 for the BHF riding on a pedelec."