BRUSSELS, Belgium (BRAIN) — A bike is a bike is a bike, and a motorbike is something else. But where to draw the line between an electric bike and a motorbike is a thornier question.
The European Parliament on Tuesday voted that electric bikes with motors of up to 250 watts and top speeds of 25 kph (15.5 mph) will remain regulated as bicycles. Anything faster or more powerful will remain a motorbike.
Some lobbyists had pushed for the parliament to open up the regulations, allowing more powerful electric bikes to be exempt from regulations governing motorbikes. Or, in another way of looking at it, lumping in all bikes — including human powered and low-powered e-bikes — with more powerful machines, possibly leading to more regulatory scrutiny for the entire category.
European industry groups and riders' groups welcomed the decision, which must still be approved by the European Council.
“We need a clear border line between what a bicycle is and what exceeds the definition of a ‘bicycle’,” said Ceri Woolsgrove, of the European Cyclists' Federation, an advocacy group.
“The minute you start changing the definition of a bicycle, you’re opening up cycling to a whole range of nasty legislation. It could mean compulsory helmets, insurance, licensing to name but a few of the negative consequences. You don’t want to damage the reputation of cycling, and lose all the wonderful benefits that cyclists’ have.”
The European bike industry group, COLIBI, also supported the decision and was active in lobbying for it alongside the ECF.