New law defines limits for electric bikes and scooters

Any electric bicycle with a motor that exceeds 25km/h or has a rated power greater than 250w will be viewed as an electric moped, and will need to be licensed, registered, insured and taxed to be on Irish roads.

As reported by IRISHCYCLE.COM earlier this week, the Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023 is due to come into effect some time in Q1 2024. After this time, there will be a set definition in law about what is considered to be a bicycle, and what is considered to be an electric moped.

Electric bikes

The limitations of an electric bike will be:

  1. It must be pedal assist. The rider must be actively pedalling the bike for the motor to operate. Bikes that can be powered by a throttle, and don’t require the rider to pedal for the motor to operate, will be considered an electric moped.
  2. The pedal assist will cut out when the bicycle goes over 25km/h. The cyclist can ride the bike at speeds over 25km/h, but without any motor assistance.
  3. The rated power output is limited to 250 watts.

Most electric bikes on sale in Ireland already fit within this definition. However there are a lot of electric bike conversion kits available online that don’t comply with these limits.

A quick search on ebay shows ebike conversion kits with throttles and top speeds of up to 50 km/h.

It can be quite hard to tell which bikes are compliant when they are at standstill, but it becomes a lot more apparent when a rider accelerates without pedalling and/or exceeds the 25km/h limit with hardly any effort.

Anyone riding a bike that under this new law will be classified as an electric moped will need to have a valid driving license, wear a motorbike crash helmet, have their vehicle registered and display a number plate, have paid motor tax, and have insurance. And I’m not sure if any of the Irish insurance companies are set up to offer insurance for this category of vehicle yet.

Electric scooters

The new law also makes electric scooters legal to use on public roads for the first time.

At present it’s not legal to ride an electric scooter – and in the past the gardaí have been known to confiscate electric scooters from riders. But that hasn’t stopped them becoming incredibly popular, particularly for short trips in cities.

The law creates a new category of vehicle for electric scooters. E-scooters and other micro mobility devices will be classed as Powered Personal Transporters (or PPTs).

The limits for a PPT will be:

  • a rated power output of up to 500 watts
  • a maximum weight of up to 25 kilograms,
  • a maximum speed of up to 25 km/h

Additionally, they must have a front and rear light, have a minimum wheel size, and must not have a seat.

Other powers within the act

Other key provisions of the act include:

  • New powers for the Garda to seize and dispose of scramblers and other vehicles used dangerously. It will become illegal to drive these vehicles dangerously on any terrain.
  • Provision for variable speed limits in Ireland – particularly on the M50.
  • Allowing for the use of CCTV cameras on public roads
  • Support for planning applications that are required for the roll out of new BusConnects infrastructure.

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