Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission (EC) has decided mandatory third-party vehicle insurance should be required by all e-bikes (including pedelecs) ridden on European roads. The proposal to amend the Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive (MID) would mean that pedelec users without third-party liability insurance would be riding illegally.
In fact, in an explanatory introduction to the proposal, the European Commission claims that power-assisted bicycles should already currently have full motor vehicle insurance (not transport, bicycle, personal or household insurance but full motor vehicle insurance).
The European Commission's decision is not currently legally binding. Before it becomes law the proposal still needs to be assessed by The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Additionally, individual governments may choose to veto the decision.
The EC proposal clarifies the scope of the directive as to which vehicles are mandated to carry third party motor vehicle insurance. This clarification was necessary to avoid the confusion as to which vehicles, and on what geographical area (road, private land etc.) would qualify for a vehicle coming under this Directive. Unfortunately, the EC proposal published today includes even the (light) power assisted bicycles – pedelecs under this directive.
The European Cyclists Federation (ECF), as well as partners from the bicycle and pedelec industry, lobbied the Commission to make a clear line between a motor vehicle and a power-assisted bicycle, to follow other European and national legislation and not oblige the pedelec users to hold a mandatory third party liability insurance. In a press release, the ECF noted that the European Commission was trying to criminalize millions of current power-assisted bicycle users, almost all of whom have some kind of other insurance, and has effectively banned pedelec use without insurance usually reserved for motor vehicles.
“If today's proposal becomes a law, third party liability insurance will be required that would discourage millions of European citizens to use pedelec, undermine the efforts and investments of several member states and the European Union to promote sustainable mobility” – states Adam Bodor advocacy director of the European Cyclists' Federation.
The ECF will challenge the European Parliament and Member States to overturn this decision.
A pedelec has a 250 watt battery powered assisted motor (about the power of a good cyclist) which cuts out at 25 km/h. It is only activated when the cyclist pedals and is viewed as a bicycle in other EU legislation (such as type approval - where they are excluded-, driving license Directive and in most Member States road rules). It is being championed by many EU member states and cities as an ideal alternative to motor vehicle use since it is a bicycle which overcomes some of the bicycle barriers such as cycling in hilly areas, older cyclists and cycling in hot weather.
There are around 4 million pedelec riders in Germany
Around 45% of bicycle sales in Belgium are pedelec
A quarter of all Dutch cyclists now use a pedelec