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Northern Ireland e-bicycle riders require motorcycle licence

Published: 14 August 2017

Riding an electric bicycle could land you with a hefty fine and points on your licence in Northern Ireland.

Motorcycle laws apply to those who ride electric pushbikes, meaning riders will need to tax, insure and register their bikes with the DVLA to use them on the public highway.

It means that riders will also have to wear an appropriate helmet by law in the same way you would in order to ride a motorcycle on the road. It also means that riders would need to tax and insure their bikes if they are to use them on the roads, despite them being limited to just 15mph.

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Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK that this is applicable, with exceptions existing in England, Wales and Scotland that allow for electric bicycles to be ridden without the same jurisdiction as motorcycles.

Before 1995, riders throughout the UK were required to treat electric bicycles as mopeds, with all of the appropriate documentation required to use them on the roads. The law was then changed to exempt Electrical Assisted Pedal Bicycles (EAPC) from this requirement throughout the UK with the exemption of Northern Ireland where it still applies.

While electric bicycles have been around for a while now, they have become much more popular in the past couple of years and are allowing riders to go further and ride longer, with many achieving a realistic range of between 40 and 60 miles between charges.

The law as it currently stands could see electrical bicycle riders charged up to £1000 if caught riding without a licence, documentation or proper crash helmet and could even see them losing their licence in extreme instances.

The law began to change in 2016 to abolish these requirements and bring them more in line with the current requirements for the rest of the UK regarding EAPCs however, cannot be completed at the moment because the Northern Irish assembly is not sitting.

Though these laws are still applicable in NI, nobody has yet been charged with any of the offences relating to e-bikes.

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