Sir, – Finn McRedmond lists some of the downsides of the proliferation of electric bikes, with particular emphasis on the impact that they have on recently developed cycle infrastructure (“Electric bikes might be fun and flashy but, let’s face it, they’re not really bikes”, Opinion & Analysis, September 21st).
While there certainly are valid concerns with bikes that have been illegally modified to exceed the permitted 25km/h, the piece pointedly fails to make the comparison that’s most relevant in the context of urban Irish transport – that with cars.
E-bikes can provide a way for people to cycle who would normally drive because of distance, hills, fitness, or the wish to wear normal clothes. And just about all of the disadvantages in the article, such as noise, safety to others, and being dumped on footpaths, are a fraction of what cars already bring to our traffic-clogged cities.
So while it’s always important to cast a critical eye on new technology, it’s also important to have a sense of perspective when that technology is an incremental improvement to something that’s been around a long time and that’s healthy, clean and efficient. And it’s particularly relevant to consider the pros and cons in comparison to the ever-increasing use of another piece of technology, the private car. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The biggest danger to elderly pedestrians, in my opinion, are the silent but deadly e-scooters. They can appear from nowhere at speed, with the rider dressed from head to toe in black. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Finn McRedmond’s ire would be better directed at the authorities for their failure to enforce the legislation in respect of the misuse of electric bikes. UK legislation is quite clear on what constitutes an electric-assist pedal cycle (EAPC): to qualify as an EAPC, the motor’s power may not exceed 250 watts and should not be capable of propelling the bicycle above 15.5 mph (25km/h), hardly warp speed.
In addition, it must also display either the power of the motor or the motor manufacturer’s details, and either the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike. Any EAPC that does not meet these criteria is classed as a motorcycle or moped, is subject to registration and tax, and requires a licence and insurance to ride one. Contravention of any of these renders the bike liable to being impounded. Furthermore, they must not be operated in cycle lanes or on the footpath. As regards the parking of bicycles on the footpath or, as Finn McRedmond suggests, abandoning, the Highways Act 1980 gives the authorities considerable scope to categorise an improperly parked bike an obstruction and fine the owner £50, and you can rest assured that the bike rental company contracts will have the renters tied tightly down to pass on any resulting fines.
Electric-assist pedal cycles provide great emissions-free mobility to many who aren’t as physically fit as they might like to be or once were. They also enable one arrive at one’s destination without the unpleasant side-effects of strenuous exertion.
It would be a shame to forgo these significant benefits for want of proper law enforcement and it is to be hoped the authorities here will be a bit more assiduous in that regard than would appear to be the case of their London counterparts. – Yours, etc,