On 24 May the European Commission published its proposal for stricter EU regulations regarding motor vehicles (Motor Insurance Directive – MID). The aims are to “to better protect victims of motor vehicle accidents and improve the rights of insurance policyholders”. There is, however, one point that snuck itself into this proposal: A liability insurance for pedelec users.
EU deems E-bike use illegal
The proposal wants drivers of bicycles with electronic motors to have to sign a motor third party liability insurance policy. This would also apply to e-bikes where the pedal assistance stops at 25 km/h which means they fall under the category “bicycle” in most countries. According to the EU commission pedelec users without liability insurance are driving illegally. This statement caused alarm bells to go off at the cycling lobby group European Cycling Federation (ECF). “If this proposal becomes a law, third party liability insurance will be required that would discourage millions of European citizens to use an e-bike, undermine the efforts and investments of several member states and the European Union to promote sustainable mobility”, warns ECF advocacy director Adam Bodor. This would undermine all efforts and investments by the Member States and the European Union to promote sustainable mobility.
In an explanatory introduction to the proposal the European Commission claims power assisted bicycles should already have full motor vehicle insurance (not transport, bicycle, personal or household insurance but full motor vehicle insurance). The ECF statement continues: “With this text the European Commission is 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.”
The ECF and other stakeholders in the cycling industry had called on the commission before the proposal to draw a clear line between motorized vehicles and bicycles with electronic support. But the commission still decided to classify even slow e-bikes as motorized vehicles. The Commission’s proposal now has to be examined by the European Parliament as well as the Council. Should both chambers follow the Commission’s proposal this would significantly slow down the triumph of electronic vehicles in Europe. Not only in Austria but also in Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium e-bikes are very popular.
So far a bicycle with pedal support up to 25 km/h was classified as a bicycles. Many EU member states and cities see it as an ideal alternative to using a car. The purchase of these environmentally friendly bikes is subsidized in some metropolitan areas and major cities.
The ECF as well as partners from the bicycle and pedelec sector immediately called on the commission to draw a clear line between a motorized vehicle and a bicycle with electronic support, “to follow other European and national legislation and not oblige the pedelec users to hold a mandatory third party liability insurance.”
The ECF continues: “Despite being as safe as a bicycle and rarely involved in third party crashes the Commission decided that this is worthy of being classed as a motorized vehicle.”