Deadline for consultation on insurance for electric bikes falls tomorrow

Tomorrow, Tuesday 24th of July, the deadline to submit opinions and evidence for or against mandatory insurance for electric bikes in the European Union falls.

To submit feedback, click here.

Coming to light in 2016, the now famous Vnuk case has triggered a review of the Motor Insurance Directive and one that could have catastrophic effect on the electric bike business.

The bizarre incident, which took place on a Slovenian farm, involved a farmhand, a ladder, a haystack and a tractor. This has since spurred the discussion on exactly what vehicles with a motor require insurance.

Electric bikes fall within the remit of the revised legislative proposal, though the bicycle business is fighting the blanket amendment, which risks pulling in an at present lucrative segment of trade and one which is deemed to have enormous benefits to mobility and health.

At present over 430 submissions have been made and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain has issued a rallying call to get that figure over 500 in time for tomorrow’s deadline. Individuals and businesses with a view on electric bikes and the business surrounding are entitled to respond.

CONEBI and the ECF has issued the following open letter on the subject which it invites people to amend and submit:

I am replying on behalf of (name of the company): we are very much against the inclusion of Electrically Power Assisted Cycles (EPACs) within the revision of the Motor Insurance Directive because of the following reasons:  

EPACs are not motor vehicles: it is a matter of regulatory consistency

An EPAC is an Electrically Power Assisted Cycle that provides electrical assistance to the cyclist up to 25km/h only while pedalling. EPACs have maximum 250W and are excluded from the EU Type-Approval because from a regulatory point of view they are not considered motor vehicles.

Power assistance is designed ONLY to complement rather than replace the main propulsion, which is by human muscle energy through manual pedalling: if an EPAC user does not pedal, he/she does not receive any assistance. Power is limited to 250W, which is a level perfectly achievable by riders without assistance.

Environmental and health benefits at risk

A mandatory third-party liability insurance for EPACs users is an over-regulatory barrier that would have a severe impact on the environmental and health benefits deriving from cycling an EPAC: the health benefits of cycling are over 191 billion Euros per year and EPACs are zero emission vehicles that tackle the growing problem of traffic congestions in cities. If motor vehicle insurance were to be made compulsory for EPACs, EPAC users would be discouraged from cycling, and the mentioned benefits be lost. The European Commission has left out the opinions of the Transport and the Public Health sectors in trying to understand the costs and benefits within a thorough impact assessment.

Jobs and investments at risk

EPACs are a key part of the cycle industry’s future employment growth potential. Current EPAC sales show that in the European Union, millions of EPACs are sold every year and sales are increasing constantly. The inclusion of EPACs in the scope of the MID would directly impact an industry that invests 1 billion euro per year in research, innovation and development and which provides 90,000 direct/indirect Green jobs across the EU.

A functioning Single Market stimulates trade and improves efficiency. The European Commission’s proposal would have the opposite effect as it indirectly foresees the possibility for each European country to exclude EPACs from the scope of the revised Motor Insurance Directive just in its own territory: that would undoubtedly create fragmentation at European level with a negative impact on exports within the European market. Divergent implementation by EU Member States of the Motor Insurance Directive with regard its scope of application would not represent a positive outcome.

Complexity of extending the current motor insurance regime and risk of significant non-compliance

The complexity of extending the current motor insurance regime to many millions of additional vehicles will result in significant non-compliance, leading to an increase in uninsured driving. 

EPACs are not dangerous

EPACs are not dangerous so no mandatory third-party liability insurance burden should be put on EPAC users. Statistics show that EPAC users are, at all effects, vulnerable road users and not the cause of serious third-party injuries.

In conclusion we call on the European Parliament and Member States to amend the text. We would like to see a definition of a motor vehicle within the legislation that excludes Electrically Power Assisted Cycles. More specifically we would like to see “motor vehicle” defined with the word “solely” included in the text, therefore a motor vehicle should be a vehicle that is  “…solely propelled by mechanical power”.

Related: Why mandatory insurance for electric bikes would be a huge mistake.