Bicycle Association issues update on Northern Ireland e-bike sales

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The Bicycle Association has issued a summary to assist members selling e-bikes in Northern Ireland as follows:

We have recently become aware that the “EAPC” (Electrically Assisted
Pedal Cycle) regulations which exempt electric bikes from being
treated as motorbikes in most of the UK do not apply in Northern
Ireland. This could have serious implications for anyone selling
e-bikes into that territory.

A BA member company selling e-bikes in Northern Ireland fielded a
query on this, and asked the BA to clarify the situation.

We have now obtained definitive information on this matter from the
relevant officials both at the Department for Transport in London and
at the Department of Infrastructure in Belfast.

I attach the verbatim statement from the Northern Ireland Department
of Infrastructure, but to summarise:

– The familiar EAPC rules (including 250W, 25 km/h cut-off limits)
allowing use of e-bikes without motorbike requirements DO NOT apply
in Northern Ireland. Transport law is a devolved matter, and the EAPC
regulations were not carried over into Northern Ireland law. So what
is an electric bike in the rest of the UK is still treated as a
motorbike when used in Northern Ireland.

– So to use EAPC-type e-bikes legally in NI, users must register
their e-bikes (with the DVLA), tax, insure, have a driving licence,
and use an approved motorbike helmet. No type approval is required
however, except for “Twist and go” type e-bikes.

– Note that this is about USE of e-bikes, and the requirements above
are for the buyer, before they can legally use the bike. Sellers can
continue to sell e-bikes legally without further paperwork (unless
they are ‘twist and go’ type, in which case type approval is
required).

– However, sellers are advised to consider carefully the implications
of this. As a minimum, sellers should make customers explicitly and
fully aware of their legal obligations, and the possible consequences
of using such a bike without registration etc. In the event of an
accident they could be found to be riding an unregistered and untaxed
motorbike, and riding without an approved helmet. As well as fines
they may also receive points on their driving licence. Also, any
insurance they may have is likely to be invalidated, leaving them
open to potential liabilities to third parties if, for example, they
injure someone while riding.

– Officials in Northern Ireland are now keenly aware of the issue
(especially as promoting e-bikes is part of their recently published
Cycling Strategy!) and they are right now drafting the legislation
which would bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.
However, the current political impasse means that nothing can be
implemented until a new Assembly is in place, and this will be
several months away at least. They do say that “Sellers can advise
customers that the Department is working to resolve this issue and
will implement legislation to exempts EAPCs from registration and
licensing requirements when the NI Assembly has reconvened.”

– The UK’s DfT have also updated the “E-bikes – the rules” web page
to clarify to consumers that NI is not included in EAPC rules:
https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules

We advise members to look urgently at the advice they give to
customers in Northern Ireland (including on websites, and before
sale) and to amend it if necessary, in line with the official advice
attached.

Finally, the BA has offered to assist in any way possible the
Northern Ireland officials working to align NI with the rest of the
UK. We will be following developments closely and will inform members as the legal situation progresses.