Christmas gift could land you in court

Contributed by editor on Nov 19, 2004 - 10:31 AM


Parents thinking about buying electrically assisted bikes for their children this Christmas may fall foul of the law.

Police are warning that some such bikes may not be quite what they seem. Pushbikes with built-in electric motors to assist on hills were originally marketed in the 1990’s but have recently become more popular. These bikes weigh less than 40 kilograms, have an electrical output of 200 watts or less and travel at less than 15 miles per hour. Such pushbikes are not illegal in Britain as the primary driving force is ‘pedal power’.

Similar-looking bikes and stand-one scooters where the main driving force is an electrical motor are the type police are more concerned about. These vehicles have 250 watt motors and are capable of reaching speeds of almost 20 miles per hour. Often advertised as complying with EU regulations, these bikes don’t always comply with British traffic laws.

If the more powerful bikes are used on the road, the rider must have a driving licence and insurance and the vehicle should be taxed and have an MOT – anyone under the age of 17 cannot use such vehicles on the road.

Riders of either type of bike should ensure they have adequate safety equipment.

PC Richard Lawton from the Thanet Traffic Unit has been looking into the differences between the bikes. He said: “I really think it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’. As a customer you need to be happy that the vehicle you are thinking of buying complies with the law.�

PC Lawton continued: “I would suggest visiting a reputable dealer who can advise on the differences between the types of bike. It’s worth doing a bit of research; these bikes cost anything from £300 to about £800 which could be a waste of money if riding one means you end up in court.â€?