ESC0055

 

 

Written evidence submitted by the Bicycle Association

 

About the Bicycle Association
 

The Bicycle Association of Great Britain (BA) is the trade association representing the cycling industry in the UK. The 70+ BA member companies cover all sectors of the industry: manufacturers, distributors, retailers and services. www.bicycleassociation.org.uk

A small number of our member companies already supply e-scooters, either as retailers or distributors.

Please note that this submission should not be taken as representing the individual view of all member companies of the Bicycle Association, some of who will also be providing separate evidence to the Committee and to the other relevant consultations. This submission aims to represent the broad views and interests of the UK cycle industry as expressed to our Association.

 

The BA’s interest: why we are making this submission
 

  1. The BA does not take a view about whether e-scooters should be made legal to use. We have a mix of views within our membership. However, it is clear that the current “legal to sell, but not legal to ride” situation is unsatisfactory.
  2. If e-scooter use is to be made legal, we believe that it is vital that regulations are clear and comprehensive, so that there is a level playing field for suppliers.
  3. It is proposed that e-scooters share space with cycles and e-bikes; the cycle industry is therefore keen to ensure that if e-scooters are legalised, regulations are appropriate to ensure that these modes can all safely co-exist and serve society’s mobility needs as well as possible.

    It is also a guiding principle of the Government’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy that “Walking, cycling and active travel must remain the best options for short urban journeys.”

    We therefore believe that any regulations for e-scooters (which are not active travel) should have performance requirements which are lower than, or at most equal to, those set in the existing well-proven e-bike regulations.

    Otherwise there is a risk that the non-active mode (e-scooters) may be seen as more attractive for short urban journeys, and also that speed and/or acceleration differentials may be excessive in cycle lanes or shared use paths which may be shared between pedestrians, unassisted cycles, e-bikes and e-scooters.
  4. The BA is also concerned that e-scooter regulations should be specific to that vehicle type and not confuse or overlap with existing well-established e-bike (EAPC) regulations.
  5. The BA is a member of the Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) which brings together numerous active travel charities and organisations. To develop thinking on e-scooters within this group, the BA has produced and evolved a detailed discussion paper on e-scooter construction and use requirements, including international comparisons. The paper includes a set of regulatory proposals that we believe would be broadly acceptable to a wide range of stakeholders. This has also been shared informally with (and taken input from) stakeholders including PACTS, RoSPA and TfL. We are happy to share this document with the Committee on request, and we include a brief summary overleaf.
  6. The BA welcomes the recent alignment of e-bike (EAPC) rules in Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK. Previously, the (unintentional) differences in regulations between the GB and NI had caused difficulties both for consumers and industry, supressing the uptake of e-bikes. We urge an early dialogue with legislators in Northern Ireland to explore the possibility that if e-scooters are to be legalised, identical regulations may be introduced for the whole of the UK.
  7. The BA notes concerns from local authorities and others around management of rental e-scooters. These aspects fall outside our area of interest and expertise and we leave it for others to comment.


Safety data – general notes


The BA is aware of a growing number of reports, including some from overseas, concerning e-scooter safety, and about other aspects of their introduction. We would urge some caution in this regard:

  1. The UK is exceptional internationally in having (to date) an exclusively ‘private ownership’ market, rather than the public experience of e-scooters being dominated by the use of rental scooters. In the UK, it is also notable that privately owned e-scooters are currently being bought in the knowledge (for at least a large proportion of purchasers, we believe) that their use is illegal, perhaps indicating a more risk-taking demographic of buyers. So the current pool of owners, and their behaviours, may not be representative of how the general public would use regulated e-scooters.
  2. There is relatively little good safety data available, and of the information that exists, there is relatively little which is not produced, directly or indirectly, by companies with a clear commercial interest in the uptake of e-scooters.

With this in mind, the BA supports the Government’s intention to trial e-scooters in UK conditions before making any final recommendations about regulation.

 

Safety considerations - summary

 

The discussion document to which we referred earlier provides considerable further detail on all of these aspects (and some alternatives which we considered), but for convenience we summarise overleaf an approach which the BA believes would be acceptable to a broad range of stakeholders.

 

 

 

Suggested approach

Legal basis

Exempted from motor vehicle requirements. Regulated under “New Approach” product safety regulations including General Product Safety, Machinery, EMC, REACH, RoHS and with suppliers incurring responsibilities under WEEE and Batteries regulations. (this is similar to the e-bike regulatory landscape, and largely relies on self-declaration of conformity via CE marking)

Definition

Electric propulsion only, must have 2 wheels in line. Standing, no seating position. Single rider. Brake/drive controls on a handlebar in front of the rider

Max speed

20 km/h (12.5 mph)

Rated motor power

250 W continuous rating, as determined by EN15194 or UNECE R85

Wheel count

2

Minimum wheel size

200 mm (8”)

Max weight

20 kg

Braking

Brakes to be fitted on both front and rear wheels. At least one braking system to be independent of the vehicle’s electrical system. Braking levers arranged with the front brake(s) operated by the right hand. Brakes to be in “efficient working order” for legal use.

Braking performance requirements: TBC (no standard is yet available, but EN 17128 is close to publication and may provide a basis for requirements. The BA is happy to provide more details about e-scooter standards on request)

Lighting

Mandatory reflectors front, rear, side. Lights required when used at night only. Detail of lighting regulations can be similar to those for bicycles

Audible warning

No mandatory audible warning device

Marking

Marked visibly and durably with:
Motor power (W), Motor cut-off speed (km/h or mph)

Other C&U reqs

Fitted with (a) a battery which does not leak so as to be a source of danger (b) a device biased to the off position which allows power to come from the motor only when the device is operated to achieve that result

Usage

Cycle lanes and roads only, as cycles

Insurance compulsory?

No

Helmet compulsory?

No

Age limit

14+

 

Specific considerations

We would like to draw the attention of the committee to a number of specific considerations which have been flagged by stakeholders as of particular concern, or which are to a degree unresolved by the suggestions on the previous page:

 

Speed

The 25 km/h cut-off for the electric assist on e-bikes provides a reasonable upper limit for e-scooters for the reasons expressed earlier, and is favoured by many e-scooter suppliers and rental companies. But we suggest a lower (20 km/h, 12.5 mph) e-scooter limit for the following reasons:

We believe 20 km/h is fast enough attract users from cars and public transport by offering reduced journey times in cities (because users are not caught in congestion, and are able to use cycle lanes and back routes), but not so fast as to compromise the appeal of cycling as the first active travel choice for most urban journeys. 

 

Motor power

We have seen it argued that because e-bikes can provide up to 250W assistance as well as the human power used to propel them, e-scooters should have motors rated above 250W to maintain equivalent performance, for example 350W or 500W.

The BA has some concerns about this.

 

Road surfaces and quality

Concern has been expressed that there may be liability issues for local authorities responsible for roads who may be unable to guarantee that road surfaces etc are kept to a standard which is safe for use by e-scooters.

This can be addressed in part through a minimum wheel size requirement (we suggest 8” as a starting point).

 

Hand signals

It can be difficult to maintain control of an e-scooter when lifting a hand from the bars, for example to indicate. If lifting the right hand, motor power will also be lost, resulting in unwanted loss of speed.

The BA believes that this could be a significant issue, especially for other users of cycle lanes or roads who may find it hard to anticipate manoeuvres made by e-scooter riders if they do not have a practical form of signalling. We suggest that e-scooter trials examine this area closely.

 

Health

The cycle industry is proud to contribute, through our products, to the health of the nation. The health benefits, both mental and physical, of cycling are well documented. And with the COVID-19 outbreak, the advantages for socially distanced transport have also come into focus.

E-scooters have potential to contribute to the necessary shift from public transport, which is likely to be constrained in capacity for some time, to independent mobility which does not contribute to car use congestion.

We hope that the DfT’s e-scooter trials may investigate whether there are any health benefits or disbenefits to e-scooter use, and also to investigate whether users would otherwise have made their journeys by car, public transport, on bike or on foot. If there is significant evidence that e-scooters reduce active travel, legislators should take this carefully into account.

 

Environmental aspects

The BA has for some years promoted cycle industry awareness of and compliance with environmental and recycling legislation relating to WEEE and batteries, especially for e-bikes. E-bikes are durable products (with a service life of up to 10 years) and almost without exception they have battery packs which are easily removable.

We have some concerns that e-scooters may have a lower in-use life and that some batteries may not be easily removable – and also that there may be scope for awareness of producer responsibilities to be raised among some e-scooter suppliers.

This is perhaps a matter on which the Committee could consider consulting the various agencies responsible for these particular items of legislation, or simply consider ensuring that any messaging around eventual legalisation highlights these producer responsibilities for suppliers, to ensure good ‘level playing field’ compliance across both e-scooter and e-bike suppliers.

 

Tampering/tuning/delimiting

It is always a concern that any new regulated class of vehicle will be tampered with to increase its power, speed or other aspects.

This has been addressed very seriously by the e-bike industry, with the harmonised standard for e-bikes (EN15194-2017) containing a number of provisions aimed at preventing any unauthorised modifications. The BA is contributing to further development of this section, which obliges manufacturers to build anti-tampering measures in at the design stage.

However, it is impossible to prevent modification completely by technical measures.

The BA would therefore recommend that the Committee consider the merits of a new offence, which would make it illegal to modify either an e-bike or e-scooter so that it no longer meets the requirements for legal use in its original category by, for example, delimiting the speed or power. 

We note that in France there is now a law which permits fines of up to 30,000 Euro or 1 year in prison for unauthorised delimiting of e-bikes. And that in the Netherlands, delimiting of the low-powered mopeds which are allowed on some cycle lanes is a significant problem.

So especially if e-scooters are to be legally allowed in cycle lanes, we suggest that robust anti-delimiting laws would be beneficial to deter speed or power derestriction or ‘tuning’ by users (or indeed suppliers). We would be in favour of these laws also applying to e-bikes, to help ensure that reputable companies trading within the rules can compete on a level playing field.

June 2020

 


[1] Schleinitz, K., Petzoldt, T., Franke-Bartholdt, L., Krems, J.F., et al. (2015). The German naturalistic cycling study - Comparing cycling speed of riders of different e-bikes and conventional bicycles.