Leva

France introduces new moped category in traffic code

153 days ago

3 minutes

The French government has created a new vehicle category in its traffic code for so-called “cyclomobiles légers“, light mopeds. This initiative seems to be aimed at accommodating e-scooters with a saddle and e-bikes without pedals. Unfortunately, there are hardly any legal vehicles to populate this category. What’s more, this initiative has missed a great opportunity.


The French government has created a new vehicle category in its traffic code for so-called “cyclomobiles légers”. The word “cyclomobile” has not yet made it to the Larousse dictionary. The French word for moped is “cyclomoteur“. According to the new legislation, the term cyclomobile léger stands for a lighter version of the moped. In fact, the category includes electric scooters and self-balancing vehicles with saddles and so-called electric bicycles without pedals.

According to Decree N° 2022 of January 14, 2022, the category is intended for vehicles with:

  • a maximum speed of 25 km/h
  • a non-thermal motor with a maximum net power of 350W
  • unloaded weight of < 30 kg
  • without any facilities for the transport of goods.

With regard to the conditions of use, the cyclomobiles légers are equated with the French category for so-called “engins de déplacement”. That means:

  • Minimum age of 12 years
  • Helmet not compulsory
  • Civil liability insurance
  • No number plate
  • Riders must wear a reflective safety vest in the dark or when visibility is limited

In practice, the new legislation will bring little change and risks to cause misunderstandings. LEVA-EU immediately received a triumphant email pointing out that from now on all e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles with saddles and e-bikes without pedals are legal in France. Unfortunately, that conclusion is incorrect.

The legal text contains a notice to point out that cyclomoteurs légers are a subcategory of mopeds and as a result subject to the type-approval for the L-category. Article 3 of the new Decree inserts the definition of cyclomoteur léger into the traffic code, more specifically as the second paragraph of Article 4.1.2 of Article R311-1. The first paragraph stipulates “vehicle of subcategory L1e-B: vehicle of category L1e other than L1e-A.

This means that all cyclomobiles légers still need to be type-approved as L1e-B in accordance with Regulation 168/2013 and its 4 implementing Regulations.

The risk of misunderstanding is immediately apparent in an article on the French blog MiniMachines.net. A comprehensive analysis completely overlooks the fact that the vehicles remain subject to the technical requirements and type-approval of the L-category (Regulation 168/2013). In addition, it is claimed that the category also covers electric bicycles with more than 250W and a throttle. That is of course completely incorrect because such electric bicycles fall under L1e-A and not under L1e-B.

Moreover, with this decree, the French government has missed an enormous opportunity, especially for such a literally large country, where speed pedelecs could play an important role in bridging distances that are not feasible for classic (e-)bicycles. In one and the same move, the French government could also have created a subcategory for speed pedelecs in the traffic, as Belgium has done. Adjusted terms of use could therefore have been introduced for that subcategory. It is painful that such initiative for a category with great potential has been overlooked, whereas an initiative has been taken for a category for which hardly any vehicles have been approved.

Nevertheless, LEVA-EU is pleased with the French decree because at least one of the LEVA-EU members will be able to bear the fruits of it. The Swedish company Vässla is one of the few manufacturers that has a type-approved e-bike without pedals on the market. That vehicle has now instantly become a lot more attractive to the French public.

Annick Roetynck

Annick is the Manager of LEVA-EU, with decades of experience in two-wheeled and light electric mobility.

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