Israel Police recommend new regulations on electric bikes, after uptick in injuries

Proposed rules include requirement that drivers obtain license, and legal age of 16 for vehicle operation.

Electric bike in Tel-Aviv (photo credit: ARIEL COHEN)
Electric bike in Tel-Aviv
(photo credit: ARIEL COHEN)
Following a series of well-publicized accidents, police recommended greater regulation of electric bicycles, including a requirement that drivers obtain a license for the vehicles and that minors under 16 be banned from riding them.
Police said Monday that the recommendation is based on the findings of officers from the Traffic Police and a series of researchers who probed the matter. They have also proposed expanding the ability of municipality inspectors to issue citations to cyclists, but said that issue would be handled by the Interior Ministry.
Electric bicycles and standup scooters have become wildly popular in recent years, with over 120,000 imported to the country just in the past two years. They are especially popular with teenagers, who are often involved in accidents.
In one of the more infamous incidents, an 85-year-old resident of Givatayim was struck and killed by a cyclist in Tel Aviv, who fled the scene and has not been caught.
On Sunday an Interior and Environmental Committee meeting was held, in which Cmdr. Sarit Philipson of the Traffic Police said that, in 2014, 150 people were hurt in accidents involving electric bikes and stand-up scooters.
Maya Siman-Tov of the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research told the meeting that since the beginning of the year, 64 people have been hospitalized in such accidents, including 10 percent who were seriously or critically injured, and that 8% were hospitalized for a week or more. Of those inured, 14% were pedestrians and the rest were the bike riders themselves.
She added that the figure represents a 237% increase over the same period of time in 2014.
During the meeting, MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) said that the vehicles have removed a large number of cars from Israel’s roads and have reduced air pollution, but that nonetheless steps must be taken to protect the public. MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said that recent proposals would have the effect of ridding Israel of electric bicycles, and said that while there is a need for regulation, the alternative to the high usage of electric bicycles is much more dangerous.
Yesh Atid MK and former health minister Yael German said that she has received dozens of complaints from citizens who have been hurt by electric bicycle riders, and that the state must give local authorities the power to issue citations and suspend dangerous riders.
Also Monday, Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich proposed a local ordinance that would ban the use of the motorized vehicles in city parks, sidewalks, and other areas where they are specifically approved for use, in order to cut down on injuries.