Mopeds or bicycles? What helmet law applies to speed pedelecs?
For any speed pedelec riders looking to tour the Netherlands, take a crash helmet and wear it as a new law passed by the Dutch government has made it an offence to be without one.
One of the most cycle and scooter-friendly countries in Europe, the Netherlands’ governing bodies both at national and local levels have been strongly debating the issue of moped and e-bike helmets for months.
Having already compelled moped riders, the law now also applies to electric bicycles exceeding 25kmh which, under EU legislation, will be classed as mopeds from January 1 2017.
These new bicycles will not be allowed to reach speeds higher than mopeds or scooters, but faster models are being frequently released.
In the UK it is against the law to ride a moped on the road without a helmet, but how far-reaching is this in terms of speed pedelecs?
BMF Government Relations Executive Graeme Hay comments on the complex legal issue:
“The Netherlands has had a very easy-going approach to what we in the UK consider mopeds for many years. A Moped, which would require a CBT, Insurance and registration plates up to 50cc here has been exempt in the Netherlands until recently. I can see why these changes are being implemented in preparation for the forthcoming pedelec electrically propelled mopeds and scooters.
“These are machines that produce more power than the 15.5mph 250 watt electrically assisted cycles. Across Europe these pedelecs require Type Approval, just as with their petrol-engined counterparts and in the UK will require to be insured, display the usual vehicle registration plates. Riders will need to have passed at least a CBT to use them on our roads. They will not be permitted in cycle-only lanes because they are indeed the true electric moped, as they have a top speed of 32mph.
“The advantages of the pedelec include tremendous acceleration and extraordinarily low running costs. They may prove dearer than petrol-engined models but there is now a Government grant scheme available to assist in buying them. The BMF believes that these new machines will bring many new riders onto the roads, particularly in our cities. They will also appeal to city authorities as a serious option with places like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow already struggling with air quality issues.”