UK Proposes Faster, More Powerful E-Bikes

Critics have said UK government proposals for putting more powerful, faster e-bikes on the roads would increase the risk of collisions and severe battery fires.

The government opened a consultation into the proposals late last week that runs until 25 April.

The “Smarter Regulation” policy paper sets out ways of making e-bikes more attractive so that they can “play a key role in increasing cycling levels and supporting the government’s objectives for active travel”, as well as reducing the cost of living and driving economic growth.

The proposed rules would diverge from present standards, which are in line with those of the European Union.

They would double the maximum power of e-bikes from 250 watts to 500 watts.

Image credit: Bolt

Faster, more power

The proposals would also bring in pedal-less, throttle-controlled e-bikes with a maximum speed of 15.5mph instead of 3.73mph.

Pedal-controlled e-bikes can already travel up to 15.5mph, but those without pedals that can travel faster than 3.73mph are generally classified as motorcycles.

Critics said the higher-wattage e-bikes could increase the risk and severity of lithium battery fires.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Charlie Pugsley said the risk of more severe battery fires was a “significant concern”, while Electrical Safety First argued MPs should instead focus on making existing batteries safer.

The Bicycle Association argued the proposals for faster throttle-controlled e-bikes risk introducing motorcycle-style requirements such as mandatory insurance, registration and helmets, which would make “the whole category significantly less attractive for users”.

Image credit: Lime


It argued that many countries have the same e-bike regulations as are currently in force in the UK and have managed to make e-bikes “highly popular and successful”.

Cycling UK said faster, heavier e-bikes making use of cycle lanes would make pedestrians and other cyclists feel unsafe, while reducing the health benefits of cycling.

“The dramatically increased power would mean faster acceleration and much heavier bikes, which we’re really concerned about,” the group said.

“We fully agree with the Government’s goal to get more people to enjoy the benefits of e-cycles, but believe the way to do that effectively is to invest in high quality infrastructure and provide financial assistance for those who need it.”

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

Google Shifts Rules For Contract Firms Amidst Labour Battle

Google removes benefits requirements for contract firms as US labour board seeks to force union…

22 mins ago

Group Supporting Women In Tech Abruptly Closes

Non-profit group Women Who Code shuts down abruptly after losing 'critical' funding sources, in blow…

52 mins ago

Netflix Reports Profits Surge, But Forecast Disappoints

Netflix shares slump as it reports profit surge but says it will stop reporting subscriber…

1 hour ago

Tesla Recalls Thousands Of Cybertrucks Over Accelerator Fault

Tesla recalls 3,878 Cybertrucks over safety issue that could cause accelerator pedal to become stuck,…

2 hours ago

Google Consolidates DeepMind And AI Research Teams

AI push sees Alphabet's Google saying it will consolidate its AI teams in its Research…

3 days ago

Apple Pulls WhatsApp, Threads From China App Store

Beijing orders Apple to pull Meta's WhatsApp and Threads from its Chinese App Store over…

3 days ago