Petition to increase speed assist limit on E bikes

Chris200

Pedelecer
Apr 29, 2019
26
14
Back again Chris to specifically satisfy your interest with opinions.

From 2006 we had been pressurising the DfT on the whole gamut of e-bike legal matters, so eventually in 2011 the DfT decided on a public consultation on the issues. This was publicised widely in cycling circles, including this forum with well over 10,000 members at the time, the CTC and the trade. It was open for representations for 12 weeks but the response numbers were so poor that this was extended for late submissions.

Eventually only 35 members of the public responded from the whole of Great Britain, (Northern Ireland in the UK has transport devolved) showing just how little interest anyone had in changing the laws. I'm linking below the archived record of that consultation for you to read, since out of it came our current law revisions.

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Thanks flecc, very interesting! Questionable as to why the response was so low though and not a statistical proof that people agree the laws are fair or reasonable. Does it show how little interest people had or how apathetic the British can be about actually having power over decisions. It would be hard to know. I suppose those who want too use ebikes for hauling things (not to go fast) must be a serious minority too.

Out of interest do you believe the regulations for a registered ebike are reasonable or fair. And to pick my particular interest do you think they are reasonable for a someone who would be happy to abide by a speed limit but wants more power to move tools and cargo (I.e cycle deliveries, carpenters, gardeners etc etc.)?
 

Wicky

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 12, 2014
2,751
3,863
Colchester, Essex
www.jhepburn.co.uk
You need a bike / motor for torque not outright speed. I chose my KTM e-race on that basis and haven't been disappointed.


When I want speed I put my helmet on and hop on my Transalp or Firestorm.
 

Chris200

Pedelecer
Apr 29, 2019
26
14
Having been around for so long, to me the discussion that's been going on for 70 years has been done to death. You've said you feel that discussion could lead to some easement of the regulations but are probably not aware that happened long ago.

When I joined the trade 70 years ago and was fitting assist motors to bikes, I also had to fit a rear number plate and tax disc holder. The customer had to have or get a full motorcycle driving licence and third party insurance. That really was over the top.

But when we joined the EEC / EU in the 1970s with their greater tolerance we were able to lose those on electric assist powered bikes, though our government then insisted on a 12 mph assist limit and a strict actual 200 watts limit which was a market killer. However, arguing the case led to us getting a 15 mph assist limit in the new 1983 regulations, albeit still with the fairly useless 200 watts and soon followed with a ban on under 14s riding pedelecs when parliament found out they could. We are still the only country in Europe with such an age ban which is totally unnecessary. Finally in 2015 we gained our last easements, a tiny rise to 15.5 mph assist, a liberal nominal 250 watts and a removal of all weight limits, all to match the EU. But once again those came with loss, this time a ban on throttles.

You can see how it goes, every time we get any gain we get accompanying losses, and that's why we are nervous of change and why we post, "Be careful what you wish for".



They are certainly fair since no-one gets any advantage. They make sense in the safety context that I explained in my last post, but not from a user point of view. There I'd like to see the law clearer in allowing more power and more emphasis on leaving that to the designer. Some blame applies to the producers though, since they could already allow more but don't in the interests of range, but it has to be remembered that most of the ebike world don't want more power or speed. Even if we got them would the industry produce and deliver for our tiny UK market if they weren't what others in our vicinity used. An example is New Zealand where long ago they decided on a 300 watts rating, but no manufacturer has ever produced a 300 watt bike for them!



I've largely answered this. They are over the top from a user point of view, but the laws on all the surrounding classes leave them trapped where they are. They can only change if all the others change and I don't buy your arguments about fragmenting the law for all the vehicle types. That can work for vehicles with very different purposes, but not for those with the same purpose, e.g. moped and e-bikes, both used for personal transport.
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Thanks again flecc. Very interesting and also thanks for the time! As you say you've probably been going over this for years. I've read some of your other stuff describing current rules. It seems that on the whole we agree...I'd be interested in your 'ideal' version of the laws in an ideal (but unlikely) world? Also in your opinion do you think these issues will get more pressing as more people start to see the potential of ebikes for commercial means, deliveries and other associated issues.
 

Chris200

Pedelecer
Apr 29, 2019
26
14
And legal




Nice... Great for the urban I'm sure. How is it fully loaded up a long steep incline? My cycle back from town has an accent of 800ft over 9km, parts of which are extremely steep. my original 250w bafang didn't last very long commuting with panniers and trailer!
 

Wicky

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 12, 2014
2,751
3,863
Colchester, Essex
www.jhepburn.co.uk
Nice... Great for the urban I'm sure. How is it fully loaded up a long steep incline? My cycle back from town has an accent of 800ft over 9km, parts of which are extremely steep. my original 250w bafang didn't last very long commuting with panniers and trailer!
Depends on the bafang motor




 

passionate off roader

Finding my (electric) wheels
Sep 13, 2020
21
11
I will just add my humble two pennuth here and say that whatever the rights and wrongs of this debate, I am absolutely hooked on using my e bike even with a 15.5 mph assist limit. Compared to an ordinary bike they just ride so effortlessly.

Having only had my e bike since 20th November, I have only used it in relatively cold and miserable conditions. So really looking forward to Summer when I can get out much more into the countryside, with increased enjoyment.

I'm sorry to say that I got involved in a clash with a "lycra clad" type, who was coming towards me on a relatively narrow shared pathway not far from where Iive, and just seemed to be cycling furiously, clearly expecting me to get out of his way, which I did, but he shouted something incoherent back at me, which clearly wasn't very complimentary, so I just shouted back a word which rhymes with "anchor". From what I have seen they appear bad tempered and humourless types.....erm, hope I haven't offended anyone.
 
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ChuckingFeet

Pedelecer
Dec 3, 2019
48
56
Derby
Sadly , 'lycra louts' are all too common and are the biggest hassle on shared paths IMHO , topping old ladies with dogs and girls with mobiles LOL .Once they have worked to get their expensive kit up to (well over ebike) speed they will not give way , expect everyone to get out of their way, and are too busy checking their STRADA to even let you know they are overtaking with a shout , a bell being far too heavy to fit to their plastic fantastics .
 

mike killay

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 17, 2011
2,925
1,532
Sadly , 'lycra louts' are all too common and are the biggest hassle on shared paths IMHO , topping old ladies with dogs and girls with mobiles LOL .Once they have worked to get their expensive kit up to (well over ebike) speed they will not give way , expect everyone to get out of their way, and are too busy checking their STRADA to even let you know they are overtaking with a shout , a bell being far too heavy to fit to their plastic fantastics .
There have been a number of cases locally where shared footpaths have been strewn with roofing tacks. A real problem for the leisure rider but I can understand why walkers are annoyed.
 

WheezyRider

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 20, 2020
679
328
I will just add my humble two pennuth here and say that whatever the rights and wrongs of this debate, I am absolutely hooked on using my e bike even with a 15.5 mph assist limit. Compared to an ordinary bike they just ride so effortlessly.

Having only had my e bike since 20th November, I have only used it in relatively cold and miserable conditions. So really looking forward to Summer when I can get out much more into the countryside, with increased enjoyment.

I'm sorry to say that I got involved in a clash with a "lycra clad" type, who was coming towards me on a relatively narrow shared pathway not far from where Iive, and just seemed to be cycling furiously, clearly expecting me to get out of his way, which I did, but he shouted something incoherent back at me, which clearly wasn't very complimentary, so I just shouted back a word which rhymes with "anchor". From what I have seen they appear bad tempered and humourless types.....erm, hope I haven't offended anyone.

In any group there are considerate and inconsiderate people, and then there are normally considerate people who are having a bad day. You just can't make assumptions about people from the way they look and can only remind people you see being inconsiderate that they are being so.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,868
23,937
Thanks again flecc. Very interesting and also thanks for the time! As you say you've probably been going over this for years. I've read some of your other stuff describing current rules. It seems that on the whole we agree...I'd be interested in your 'ideal' version of the laws in an ideal (but unlikely) world? Also in your opinion do you think these issues will get more pressing as more people start to see the potential of ebikes for commercial means, deliveries and other associated issues.
My ideal version of all or any law is as liberal as possible, so in that respect i'm fully aligned with you. However I'm a realist and recognise that for a wide range of reasons that we are not going to get anything like what we really want.

The main reason is that we are simply not a cycling country and the current so called cycling boom still leaves us at the bottom of that stack and probably won't be long lasting anyway. Following WW2 we were very much a cycling country due to circumstances. There were hardly any private cars or motorbikes following the government requisitioning them for the war effort and we couldn't buy new ones since all we produced had to go to export to pay off our huge war debts. Public transport was in a sorry state post war due to lack of maintenance and losses and the public also often too poor to afford fares.

So cycling or walking were the only options for many and the roads in rush hours were totally dominated by bikes filling the carriageways. Once in blue moon a car would pass and there were the occasional slow moving buses and lorries, the latter including maximum 12 mph steam lorries giving an indication of how slow traffic was back then, cycling paradise it might be thought.

Trouble was that was cycling forced upon people and they couldn't wait to escape from it, first to add-on cycle motors from about 1949, then to the new scooters from Vespa and Lambretta from the early 1950s and then to the cars from the mid 1950s and '60s as they became more freely available. By 1970 bicycles had all but vanished, leaving cycling something that only kids did. Huge numbers of bike shops had shut down all over the country and the UK add-on bike motor suppliers had gone broke.

We've never recovered from that anti utility cycling bias. In 1980 the mountain bike first arrived from the USA and they started to catch on as a leisure pursuit, also stimulating the club style drop bars cycling. Trouble is they were sporting in nature and it's why our cycling revival ever since has been seen as sporting in nature, leading to our bonkers British habit of cycling with huge effort at 20 mph or more and putting many off taking up cycling.

Continental Europe recovered far more slowly from the war so didn't lose utility cycling so quickly, allowing many of their governments to stem the advance of car driving and provide more cycling facilities, hence their huge numbers cycling for transport as part of their routine life. This most spectacularly seen in the Netherlands where 70% of the population cycle daily and motor traffic has to give way to bicycles at junctions.

Of course this a big restraint on liberalising pedelec law. Pedelecs can get away with this privileged treatment while they remain almost identical to bicycles at commonly circa 12 mph, but if they become too powerful and start flying around motorised at 20mph or more, drivers and motorcyclists will start kicking off about unfair treatment

An interesting footnote on our anti cycling bias. Our Asian population is almost never seen cycling and that is because they see cycling as something only done by the poor and lower status. Of course they too in their native countries have long had cycling forced upon them out of necessity by poverty, creating that similar bias. In East London there's been an initiative to overcome this and get Asians cycling, but I don't know how successful that's been.

Out of interest do you believe the regulations for a registered ebike are reasonable or fair. And to pick my particular interest do you think they are reasonable for a someone who would be happy to abide by a speed limit but wants more power to move tools and cargo (I.e cycle deliveries, carpenters, gardeners etc etc.)?
Reasonability and fairness are too subjective to give an opinion on that basis. The nominal power limit is far from ideal of course, heavy cargo bikes need a lot more depending on circumstances. One kW could be enough on the flat. but for really steep hills with a pedicab carrying two passengers, at least 5 kW would be needed and that still crawling at a snails pace.

Trouble is at what what point does it stop being a bicycle?

Riding a Cycles Maximus pedicab uphill with 5000 watts from its Lynch motor and 200 watts from the rider means it's 96% a motor vehicle and only 4% a bicycle, making a mockery of the law.
.
 
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slowcoach

Pedelecer
Dec 11, 2020
28
22
Just thinking, flecc on your comments of early assisted cycles. I remember a neighbour bought himself a Cyclemaste rear wheel. Anybody else remember them?
When I left school and started work I had an eight mile journey and had to be there for 0730. As soon as I had saved enough money on my £4 a week, I bought an NSU Quickly, a 50cc moped. Of course that required me to be old enough to get a driving licence.
 

Chris200

Pedelecer
Apr 29, 2019
26
14
My ideal version of all or any law is as liberal as possible, so in that respect i'm fully aligned with you. However I'm a realist and recognise that for a wide range of reasons that we are not going to get anything like what we really want.

The main reason is that we are simply not a cycling country and the current so called cycling boom still leaves us at the bottom of that stack and probably won't be long lasting anyway. Following WW2 we were very much a cycling country due to circumstances. There were hardly any private cars or motorbikes following the government requisitioning them for the war effort and we couldn't buy new ones since all we produced had to go to export to pay off our huge war debts. Public transport was in a sorry state post war due to lack of maintenance and losses and the public also often too poor to afford fares.

So cycling or walking were the only options for many and the roads in rush hours were totally dominated by bikes filling the carriageways. Once in blue moon a car would pass and there were the occasional slow moving buses and lorries, the latter including maximum 12 mph steam lorries giving an indication of how slow traffic was back then, cycling paradise it might be thought.

Trouble was that was cycling forced upon people and they couldn't wait to escape from it, first to add-on cycle motors from about 1949, then to the new scooters from Vespa and Lambretta from the early 1950s and then to the cars from the mid 1950s and '60s as they became more freely available. By 1970 bicycles had all but vanished, leaving cycling something that only kids did. Huge numbers of bike shops had shut down all over the country and the UK add-on bike motor suppliers had gone broke.

We've never recovered from that anti utility cycling bias. In 1980 the mountain bike first arrived from the USA and they started to catch on as a leisure pursuit, also stimulating the club style drop bars cycling. Trouble is they were sorting in nature and it's why our cycling revival ever since has been seen as sporting in nature, leading to our bonkers British habit of cycling with huge effort at 20 mph or more and putting many off taking up cycling.

Continental Europe recovered far more slowly from the war so didn't lose utility cycling so quickly, allowing many of their governments to stem the advance of car driving and provide more cycling facilities, hence their huge numbers cycling for transport as part of their routine life. This most spectacularly seen in the Netherlands where 70% of the population cycle daily and motor traffic has to give way to bicycles at junctions.

Of course this a big restraint on liberalising pedelec law. Pedelecs can get away with this privileged treatment while they remain almost identical to bicycles at commonly circa 12 mph, but if they become too powerful and start flying around motorised at 20mph or more, drivers and motorcyclists will start kicking off about unfair treatment

An interesting footnote on our anti cycling bias. Our Asian population is almost never seen cycling and that is because they see cycling as something only done by the poor and lower status. Of course they too in their native countries have long had cycling forced upon them out of necessity by poverty, creating that similar bias. In East London there's been an initiative to overcome this and get Asians cycling, but I don't know how successful that's been.



Reasonability and fairness are too subjective to give an opinion on that basis. The nominal power limit is far from ideal of course, heavy cargo bikes need a lot more depending on circumstances. One kW could be enough on the flat. but for really steep hills with a pedicab carrying two passengers, at least 5 kW would be needed and that still crawling at a snails pace.

Trouble is at what what point does it stop being a bicycle?

Riding a Cycles Maximus pedicab uphill with 5000 watts from its Lynch motor and 200 watts from the rider means it's 96% a motor vehicle and only 4% a bicycle, making a mockery of the law.
.
Thanks flecc. That is a great breakdown of why cycling is so badly treated/perceived in the UK! I am obviously with you when you say the laws should be as liberal as possible and I think I see the links between the psychological perception of cycling and why it would be hard to change the laws. It is sad really. I understand that for leisure cyclists this may all seem like a storm in a tea cup. But for me (someone who is excited by the potential of ebikes and their variants as work tools) the current regulations seem overly repressive. My best guess is that this is because of a collision of the attitudes you outline above and a lack of imagination from government. I might add that I wouldn't be surprised if there was also pressure from automotive and insurance groups. Neither of which would see much positivity (or profit) in what we might call freedom.

Yes I agree that there is some judgment to be applied as to what constitutes a bicycle. But that is a judgment the law manages to make for other vehicles, I don't suppose it would be hard to come up with a 'reasonable' category and appropriate regulation If the will was there. But apparently it is not, either that or it's such a niche issue that it is just overlooked. As it goes my ideal would be a class of cargo cycle (with a weight limit) that can have up to 1000w continuous power along side a top speed limit (15.5 if that makes the car drivers happy). Yes I know about cat L1e but honestly if I can cycle a fully loaded tourer around with trailer and don't have to have a helmet/no plate/ insurance then why should an electrified version? I mean have you seen teen-agers driving massive agricultural machinery with trailers? A 17 year old can drive pretty much anything without a licence! Any ways I'm off on a rant again thanks for the interesting discussion flecc! I hope you don't have to go through it all again too many times. Although you have to wonder if people keep asking then maybe the question is relevent. Time will tell. I am as you say above all 'a realist'. I don't imagine anything much will change, well not unless there is a profit in it for the right people!
 
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Reactions: flecc

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,868
23,937
Just thinking, flecc on your comments of early assisted cycles. I remember a neighbour bought himself a Cyclemaste rear wheel. Anybody else remember them?
I fitted and worked on many of them. The original was 25cc and had a black painted hubshell, but later it was uprated to 32 cc and the hubshell was grey painted.

Although Cyclemaster was Dutch, the original design was by DKW of Germany, maybe handed over as part of war reparations as most German designs were.
.
 

Michael Price

Pedelecer
Sep 7, 2018
218
147
I can see good reasons to introduce a more powerful category - with some minimal regulations included - maybe a cheap test once a year to test brakes or something

But overall someone needs to consider the whole electic scene - new things keep cropping up - scooters at the moment

If would be better to introduce a more overall category with generic regulations which could cover any vehicle
e.g. ability to stop
so if a 'standard person. can stop the vehicle from (say) 15.5 mph in x metres then it is Cat A
if it takes x+y metres then Cat B
etc etc
then the cutoff speed can be different form each Category - and the power can vary the same way

as an example
a scooter has handlebars so can stop faster and easier the an electric skateboard, hoverboard or unicycle - hence the scooter would be able to go faster and have more power
ebikes would easily be covered by allowing human only power past the cutoff speed - as now
then, after a certain point, you can have a Cat x+ - where you can exceed the criteria by a set amount but it needs testing once a year - and this cna be reasonably cheap and simple - such as testing brake performance

the lower categories would, as now, be classified simply as the same as bicycles are now

All this sounded simple in my head
typing it out raises more questions than I thought - it would take a sensible and well read person to work out how to do it

still -
40132
 
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Reactions: flecc

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,868
23,937
I can see good reasons to introduce a more powerful category - with some minimal regulations included - maybe a cheap test once a year to test brakes or something

But overall someone needs to consider the whole electic scene - new things keep cropping up - scooters at the moment

If would be better to introduce a more overall category with generic regulations which could cover any vehicle
e.g. ability to stop
so if a 'standard person. can stop the vehicle from (say) 15.5 mph in x metres then it is Cat A
if it takes x+y metres then Cat B
etc etc
then the cutoff speed can be different form each Category - and the power can vary the same way

as an example
a scooter has handlebars so can stop faster and easier the an electric skateboard, hoverboard or unicycle - hence the scooter would be able to go faster and have more power
ebikes would easily be covered by allowing human only power past the cutoff speed - as now
then, after a certain point, you can have a Cat x+ - where you can exceed the criteria by a set amount but it needs testing once a year - and this cna be reasonably cheap and simple - such as testing brake performance

the lower categories would, as now, be classified simply as the same as bicycles are now

All this sounded simple in my head
typing it out raises more questions than I thought - it would take a sensible and well read person to work out how to do it

still -
View attachment 40132
This is already being attempted:

See this link

Be sure to also read the last paragraph with UK related information.
.
 

Gliggsy

Pedelecer
May 15, 2020
60
14
Can anyone tell me, what is the basic reason to want or need to go faster, is it to get somewhere quicker or the thrill of more speed, what, can anybody enlighten me
 

Ocsid

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 2, 2017
253
183
77
Hampshire
Can anyone tell me, what is the basic reason to want or need to go faster, is it to get somewhere quicker or the thrill of more speed, what, can anybody enlighten me
As I read it to have the electric version of a "motorbike", which they can, but at the same time avoid the obligations of third party insurance, etc. Plus gain the advantages of using it on cycleways, permitted shared use paths and bus routes as push bikes and our restricted e-bikes can.

If they they want a fast electric bike all the provisions are already there for that, so it's not just a push for faster speed, its having that without its associated obligations.
 
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