Road Safety Authority: Critical to set regulations for use of electric bicycles

Regulations for electric bikes expired in 2011 and were not renewed, even as their popularity soared in Israel.

An electric bicycle. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
An electric bicycle.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Due to the surge in electric bicycle use, the government must approve relevant safety regulations for these vehicles, the National Road Safety Authority argued in a position paper released on Sunday.
Since 2010, tens of thousands of electric bicycles have accumulated on the country’s roads, as is occurring in large cities around the world, the authority said.
Yet with the advantages of electric bike transport also comes disadvantages and dangers – such as speeding riders failing to obey traffic laws and lights, the authority said.
Meanwhile, because regulations on these bikes signed in 2010 actually expired in 2011 without renewal, traveling on these bikes is technically illegal.
The expired one-year regulations maintained that bikes can have only a maximum power of 250 watts and not exceed 25 km. per hour in traveling speed, the Road Safety Authority said.
Meanwhile, cyclists using these bikes had to be at least 14-years-old.
“In light of the increasing number of electric bicycles and their widespread use, safety issues are already occurring [and] are a likely to worsen,” a statement from the authority said. “Therefore, the need has arisen to define where to allow electric bicycles to move and also to determine responsibilities for handling registration, enforcement, infrastructure planning and safety measures.”
At a Knesset Economic Affairs meeting on Monday, committee chairman MK Avishay Braverman (Labor) determined that the Transportation Ministry and relevant authorities will have until June 30 to submit an amended set of regulations for the committee.
The National Road Safety Authority is advocating European standards for bike usage, such as the mandate that the bikes be moved by pedal and that the electric motor will only be able to kick in during pedaling.
In addition, the authority said that the engine must stop working upon reaching a speed of 25 km. per hour, and the maximum power should be 250 watts.
Bikes that could be operated with the electric motor regardless of pedaling would not meet the definition of an electric bicycle, the authority said.
In addition to adopting European safety standards and enforcing age and speed limits, the National Road Safety Authority stressed the importance that bikes meet minimum safety requirements at the time of sale.
In addition, they should be prohibited from traveling on roads where speed limits exceed 50 km. per hour, as well as on sidewalks, like regular bikes, the authority said.
“The position of the National Road Safety Authority is that we cannot distinguish between ordinary and electric bicycles in terms of the duty of protection,” the authority said.