Tag Archive: Legislation

  1. Legalise e-scooters, says UK Transport Committee

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    In a report published today, E-scooters: pavement nuisance or transport innovation, the Parliamentary Committee says that e-scooters have the potential to offer a low cost, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to the private car. 

    Whilst supporting the introduction and use of e-scooters, the Committee advises that current rental trials and any plans for legalisation should not be to the detriment of pedestrians, particularly disabled people.  

    The Committee calls for robust enforcement measures to eliminate pavement use of e-scooters, which the report says is dangerous and anti-social. If the Government supports the Committee’s recommendation and decides to legalise privately owned e-scooters, the law should clearly prohibit their use on pavements and ensure that such enforcement measures are effective in eliminating this behaviour.

    The Transport Committee further caveats its report by calling for a sensible and proportionate regulatory framework for the legal use of electric scooters, based firmly on evidence gained from current rental trials and from other countries. The current rental trials should allow important evidence and data to determine the best way to legally incorporate both rental and privately owned e-scooters within the UK’s transport mix.

    The Department for Transport must also encourage the use of e-scooters to replace short car journeys rather than walking and cycling. The Committee warns that it would be counter-productive if an uptake in e-scooters, whether rental or private, primarily replaced more active and healthy forms of travel and calls for the Department to continue promoting active travel as a key policy.

    All further details are here

  2. Commission Asks TRL to Revise Technical + Road Use Rules for ALL LEVs

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    On behalf of the European Commission, TRL has started an investigation into the appropriateness and accuracy of European rules governing light, electric vehicles. The Commission had announced this research at the LEVA-EU symposium in February but then seemed to indicate that the scope would be limited to “Personal Mobility Devices”, i.e. e-scooters, self-balancing vehicles, monowheels, etc. The scope now appears to include all LEVs, which creates a unique opportunity to prove the need for fundamental change.

    Last February, LEVA-EU organised a symposium on the legal status and market position of the speed pedelec. This symposium, attended by the European Commission, clearly showed how European technical rules result in great difficulties for manufacturers and that the categorisation as L-vehicle create great safety risks for speed pedelec riders.

    Speed pedelecs are not the only LEVs suffering from inadequate and outdated rules. As electric cargo-bikes take up an ever increasing role in city logistics, the 250W limit to keep them out of the L-category becomes an ever increasing obstacle. There are legal bottlenecks for LEVs excluded from the L-category just as well. Some Member States, such as the Netherlands and the UK, still forbid e-scooters on public roads. Other Member States develop their own technical rules, thus undermining the principle of European harmonisation and the single market. The national terms of use for electric tricycles and quadricycles, excluded from the L-category are totally unclear and uncertain.

    E-scooters with saddles or very light mopeds, which are technically very similar if not identical to e-scooters without saddles are not excluded from the L-category. They are therefore subject to an extremely complicated, expensive though inaccurate type-approval, upon which they are subject to the terms of use for conventional mopeds including the wear of a motorcycle helmet.

    The only LEV to enjoy a much better regulatory framework is the electric bicycle with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W. This vehicle has been excluded from the L-category, as a result of which it became subject to the Machinery Directive. This has allowed for the harmonised standard EN 15194, whilst all member states have given this e-bike the same legal status as conventional bicycles. As a result, this market has been growing very steadily for several decades now.

    But to make mobility more sustainable and green, the EU needs a wider variety of LEVs. Markets, other than e-bikes 25 km/h-250W, such as speed pedelecs have only enjoyed a limited growth even though there is a clear potential. Or, the vehicles are under threat of very sudden and arbitrary changes in national rules that could suddenly destroy the market. The response of the Dutch government to the Stint accident is the best example of such threat. The insane penalties decreed by France for LEVs exceeding their speed limitation by construction is yet another sword of Damocles for the sector.

    LEVA-EU has been pleading and working for a fundamental change of the rules ever since its foundation. Without such change, the EU will never be able to achieve its Green Deal’s objectives, which include a 90% GHG emission reduction by 2050.

    At the February symposium, the EC representative announced the Commission’s intention to order a study on how LEVs, such as e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles (PMDs) could be included in the type-approval. This study has very recently been initiated by TRL and its scope appears to be broader than what the Commission announced in February.

    TRL is calling on all LEV stakeholders for their input. TRL is interested “to hear about the effects of national and regional regulations on the safety of, and market for, PMDs. We are also interested to hear any ideas that stakeholders might have for the best ways in which new and existing PMDs could be regulated in order to safely and efficiently integrate them into road use. We understand that the scope of this project includes vehicles that might already be type approved in the L category, e.g. cycles designed to pedal and cargo bikes and we are therefore open to suggestions regarding any improvements that could be made to that system.

    LEVA-EU is extremely pleased with this widened scope that allows for research into the accuracy of the rules, not only for PMDs such as e-scooters and self-balancing vehicles but also speed pedelecs, electric cargo-bikes, electric bikes with more than 250W (L1e-A), etc. Further good news is the fact that TRL is not only going to consider technical regulations but also road circulation measures to ensure the safe deployment of these machines in the EU and the effect of regulation on the PMD market in the EU. Current problems are to a large part resulting from the fact that Regulation 168/2013 was designed without any consideration as to the effect of the technical categorisation on the terms of use for the vehicles.

    LEVA-EU herewith calls upon ALL stakeholders concerned to state their views on current LEV-regulations as well as their proposals for improving the rules. TRL is currently collecting input and plans a webinar some time in September.

    For all further details, please contact LEVA-EU Manager Annick Roetynck, tel. + 32 9 233 60 05, email annick@leva-eu.com.

  3. Non-Type-Approved E-scooters with Saddle are Illegal

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    In those member states that allow electric scooters on the road, they are clearly on the rise. With that, the offer of e-scooters with saddle is also growing. However, those vehicles are ticking time bombs since they are completely illegal if non type-approved. LEVA-EU, the trade association for businesses in the light, electric vehicle sector, explains why a saddle makes such a difference.

    The growing popularity of the electric scooter is gradually becoming visible in traffic. It is a green means of transport that can contribute to making mobility more sustainable. A number of manufacturers have now added a saddle to that scooter, possibly in an attempt to improve comfort and to promote the vehicle to a wider audience.

    Incalcuable consequences

    In Belgium, which has introduced very favourable rules for e-scooter in its traffic code, the offer of electric scooters with saddle is growing noticeably. Bol.com has an electric scooter “for children” from € 117.99. Via Fruugo, Zipper scooters with saddle are advertised from € 269. MediaMarkt offers the Mpman as an electric balance bike for € 349. In the web shop of the weekly magazine Knack the Ecoscooter is at € 499 and Fnac promotes the Inmotion P1F at € 699.35.

    All these vehicles have one thing in common: they are illegal. All distributors should cease sales immediately and recall all vehicles sold. Should one of these vehicles be involved in a serious accident, the consequences for the involved distributors and manufacturers of the scooters will be incalculable.

    The warning comes from LEVA-EU, the European trade association for light, electric vehicle businesses. LEVA-EU negotiates directly with the European institutions on the technical legislation for these vehicles. As a result, the organization has first-hand correct and in-depth knowledge of the legislation.

    1,036 pages

    Most vendors do not disclose the legal status of these e-scooters with saddle or suggest that they belong to the special category that Belgium has created in the traffic code for e-scooters without saddle.  There is a chance that the distributors themselves are in the dark about the illegality of their merchandise. The legal status of the electric scooter with saddle is the result of 1,036 pages of European legislation that has not evolved with the market and has grown into a gigantic legal bottleneck.

    In 2009, the European Commission had to rewrite the technical requirements for mopeds and motorcycles. It was already clear then that the internal combustion engine would have to make way for its electric counterpart and that classic mopeds and motorcycles would be supplemented or replaced by a series of light, electric vehicles with the electric bicycle in the lead. The Commission then, with the approval of the European Parliament and the Council, stubbornly refused to write future-proof legal texts. In 1,036 pages, Regulation 168/2013 and the 4 associated implementing regulations mainly describe the limitation of emissions and safety features, which are not relevant for light, electric vehicles.

    Saddle = moped

    The Commission was prepared to exclude the classic electric bicycle (25 km / h-250W) from Regulation 168/2013, along with a number of other vehicles, which they did not know how to handle in type-approval. This was the case for vehicles that “are not equipped with at least one seating position” (Article 2.2.j of Regulation 168/2013). Electric scooters that are not equipped with a seat are therefore excluded from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. As a result, as far as the traffic codes are concerned, these scooters end up in a legal vacuum, which Member States can fill at their discretion.

    To fill this vacuum, Belgium has devised the category “locomotive machines” (voortbewegingstoestel (NL) – engin de déplacement (F)). Belgium stipulated in the traffic code that these vehicles are allowed to drive up to 25 km / h. In addition, they get a similar position on the road as bicycles, they do not require a license plate and no insurance. The user must not wear a helmet and does not require a driver’s license.

    Put a saddle on that scooter and the story is completely different. Then it is vehicle equipped with at least one seat. So, it is subject to type approval in the category L1e-B “moped” and in the Belgian traffic code it comes under “moped class A”. As a result, you must register it, apply for a license plate and pay insurance. You are also obliged to wear a motorcycle helmet and at least have an AM driving license. You must also be at least 16 years old to drive such a scooter. Bol.com’s scooter for children is therefore doubly illegal in a manner of speaking.

    There is no (scientific) research that supports the decision to submit e-scooters with a saddle to type approval and without a saddle not. At the time, decision-makers just put a wet finger in the air, as they did when deciding on the 25 km/h and 250W limits for the electric bicycle.

    Highly dangerous

    However, it is impossible to have the Zipper scooters, Mpmen and Ecoscooters of this world comply with the European type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. The technical requirements are totally inaccurate for these vehicles. Even if you manage to get a type of electric scooter with saddle approved, it still does not guarantee a safe vehicle. The same problem also occurs for example for speed pedelecs or electric cargo bikes with more than 250W. However, if you keep the saddle of all those vehicles under 54cm, you don’t have to meet type approval after all (exclusion from Article 2.2.k); legal nonsense pushed to an extreme.

    Another, much bigger problem is that most Member States do not have a “moped class A”, like Belgium has, or the Netherlands with “snorfiets” or Germany with “Leichtmofa”. All mopeds in L1e-B mopeds are treated as one and the same vehicle in the traffic codes of those Member States. In most of these cases, mopeds are not allowed to use cycle paths. This is how the feather weight Zipper, Mpman or Ecoscooter, which often doesn’t even reach 25 km / h, ends up between cars and freight traffic that drive much faster. This creates life-threatening situations. This problem also occurs with speed pedelecs, the majority of which cannot reach 45 km / h but rather have a cruising speed of 30 to 35 km / h. This appeared from recent research commissioned by the Flemish Environment Department (see https://bit.ly/3cTQtnI)

    4.2 million deaths a year

     LEVA-EU has recently made an urgent request to the Presidents of the Commission, Council and Parliament for a rapid and fundamental revision of Regulation 168/2013. In addition, LEVA-EU has developed a concrete and practical proposal as to how to replace the legal bottlenecks with rules for light, electric vehicles that will enable the market to grow safely.

    LEVA-EU Manager Annick Roetynck adds: “In the Green Deal and other European policyy instruments, several billion euros are earmarked for making mobility green and sustainable. Improving legislation for electric scooters and other light electric vehicles is a measure that is virtually cost-free, much needed and guaranteed to generate millions, if not billions, of euros. And yet Europe continues to systematically put that measure off. This is unacceptable.

    Meanwhile, the Commission has replied to the LEVA-EU request. They announce yet another study, the results of which will be published in the first quarter of 2021. Only then could a debate on a possible revision of Regulation 168/2013 be started. Should a proposal for review be made, it will need to be approved by the Council and Parliament.

    Annick Roetynck: “This means that it could take at least another five years before our sector can have any hope of removing the legal bottlenecks. That is downright unacceptable. More than 400,000 people have died of Covid-19 so far. But meanwhile, 4.2 million people die from air pollution every year. Mobility is clearly a growing part of that problem. Why is Europe blocking the opening of the market for light electric vehicles? Why does Europe continue to ignore the potential of light electric vehicles to make mobility more sustainable? ” LEVA-EU does intend to keep knocking on the European door.

    The Dutch version of this article is here: https://bit.ly/3fk5AZj

  4. Northern Ireland finally in line with E-Bike legislation

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    Due to some bizarre legal twist, to date Northern Ireland had not aligned its legislation for e-bikes with EU legislation. Whilst all member states, including all other UK nations, had equated electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 lm/h and 250 W with conventional bicycles, Northern Ireland insisted on applying motorcycle terms of use.

    As a result, e-bikers had to register their vehicle, they had to have a license and insurance and they had to wear a motorcycle helmet. Needless to say that the e-bike market in Northern Ireland did not really take off. In 2017, Halfords withdrew all e-bikes from the Northern Irish market.

    Due to the deadlock in government formation, the problem could not be solved by law. Now that Northern Ireland has a government again and following the renewed interest in (e)cycling due to Corona, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon brought the correct(ed) e-bike legislation to the Northern Irish Assembly.

    From now on, e-bikers in Northern Ireland are allowed to ride under the same conditions as conventional cyclists: without registration, license, insurance and helmet. Long overdue but better late than never, unless, of course, Brexit results in yet another bizarre twist in legislation.

  5. LEVA-EU sends open letter to EU Commission, Council & EP Presidents

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    Gent, 12 May 2020

    Open Letter to:
    – the President of the European Commission, Mrs von der Leyen
    – the President of the European Council, Mr Michel
    – the President of the European Parliament, Mr Sassoli

    Dear Mrs von der Leyen, Mr Michel and Mr Sassoli,

    LEVA-EU is the European trade association for businesses in the light electric vehicle (LEV)-sector. The term  LEV covers all electric vehicles in and excluded from the L-category, i.e. e-scooters, e-bikes, speed pedelecs, electric mopeds and motorcycles, etc..

    LEVA-EU herewith officially requests the Presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament to eliminate legal bottlenecks and to put LEVs at the heart of Green Deal, with a view to encouraging sustainable mobility as we are coming out of the Corona crisis.

    Almost 300,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19. We all agree that each one of those deaths is one too many. And yet, every year, we allow for 4.2 million people to die from air pollution. There appears to be a worldwide consensus that this is a price worth paying to preserve our economies and living standards. It took COVID-19 to show how life can be without that pollution: not only cleaner and healthier (in a way) but also quieter, more safe, greener, brighter, … The share of transport in that turnaround can hardly be underestimated.

    At all levels, policymakers are now faced with the choice between going back to “business as usual” or a fundamental change. It is once again the cities that are the pioneers in encouraging their citizens and businesses to make that fundamental change. A growing peloton of European cities decides to safeguard and sometimes even further expand the freed up space to allow pedestrians, cyclists and users of light, electric vehicles (LEVs) such as e-bikes, electric cargo bikes, e-scooters, etc. to keep a safe distance.

    When we now read the Green Deal, published before the Corona-crisis, the chapter on transport sounds very much overtaken by reality. Why should we wait until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% and until 2050 to achieve climate neutrality? In October 2019, the European Environment Agency (EEA) stated: “Cutting air pollution in Europe would prevent early deaths, improve productivity and curb climate change.” How can a decision to wait until 2050, thus killing millions more, be justified, especially since the Corona crisis has shown that we are able to cut air pollution.

    That is why LEVA-EU calls upon the European Commission, Parliament and Council to support the European cities and their citizens by taking two simple, concrete measures.

    First, before the Corona crisis, the EEA already stated: “Shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal.” The Corona crisis has shown that the willingness to travel in a sustainable way is far beyond political expectations. In the European Green Deal, the Commission expresses “its intention to tackle all transport emission sources and explains that achieving sustainable transport means providing users with more affordable, accessible, healthier and cleaner alternatives to their current mobility habits.

    Despite this statement, the Commission has not put forward shifting to walking, cycling, LEVs and public transport as a key element of the Green Deal. LEVA-EU calls upon the Commission and all European institutions to stop ignoring the invaluable EEA advice. We urge the Commission to include that shift as a key element in both the Green Deal Communication and in the announced strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    Second, the Commission has announced adaptations of existing legislation, i.e. the AFID and the TEN-T Regulation. We urge the Commission to add the revision of Regulation 168/2013 to this programme. A fast and fundamental revision of this Regulation on the type-approval for L-category vehicles is crucial to remove the many legal bottlenecks, which are currently severely obstructing the deployment of LEVs.

    Last February, at a symposium organized by LEVA-EU and the Belgian project 365SNEL, LEV-manufacturers presented the Commission with a large variety of legal and regulatory problems preventing them from fully exploiting the potential of LEVs. The 365SNEL project, funded by the Flemish Environmental Department, showed that after extensive test riding, 20% of the participants swapped their car for a speed pedelec for commuting.

    At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from the L-category. So, most other light electric vehicles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for light electric vehicles. Manufacturers must figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they then have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    The 365SNEL research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules.

    Regulation 168/2013 is a significant barrier to European SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these COVID-19 times, is set to soar. Europe must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Categorizing LEVs as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most speed pedelecs for instance are unable to achieve their maximum speed limit of 45 km/h, but rather achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35 km/h. Yet, classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50km/h. As a result, riders are forced to ride in dangerous conditions, because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening. This is yet another reason for a fundamental review of Regulation 168/2013.

    Last year, an estimated three million e-bikes were sold in the European Union. About 98 per cent of these were e-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent to which the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes and other LEVs.

    The LEV market holds an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent and fundamental alterations to current legislation. LEVA-EU has presented the Commission with a well-founded proposal for legislative change. We would be very pleased to further explain and discuss this proposal.

    Finally, LEVA-EU wishes to rephrase the EEA statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.”

    Yours Sincerely,

    Annick Roetynck,
    LEVA-EU Manager

  6. LEVA-EU says ‘blanket’ EU regulation ‘choking’ light electric vehicle sector

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    The European trade association LEVA-EU is calling for an urgent change in EU regulations, it says are seriously hindering manufacturers at a time when cities are encouraging use of light, electric vehicles (LEV) as an alternative form of transport during the coronavirus crisis.

    LEVA-EU, the only trade association in Europe that works exclusively to represent light electric vehicle businesses, has presented proposals to the European Commission to revise rules it believes are inaccurate and can put users in danger.  It says the Covid-19 crisis has brought its proposals into sharp focus and is urging the EC to schedule changing the ruling as a matter of urgency.

    The advocacy group, whose work concerns a wide range of one, two, three and four wheel LEVs including E-bikes, speed pedelecs (E-bikes that can achieve speeds of up to 45km/h), E-cargo bikes  and E-scooters, says the central issue is that the Regulation class light electric vehicles (LEVs) in the same category as mopeds and motorbikes and as a result isvery seriously hampering the industry at ‘absolutely the wrong time’.

    Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU manager, said the EC only has to look at all the cities across Europe opening up cycle lanes as the public scrambles to find safe alternative forms of transport. She called for ‘root and branch’ change to further unleash innovation and enterprise in the LEV sector much of which is made of up dynamic small to medium size firms.

    Our concern centres on Regulation 168/2013 which establishes the technical legislation for L-category vehicles, in other words mopeds and motorcycles. At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from this L-category. So, all other electric bicycles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for electric bicycles. Manufacturers have to figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    This regulation is a significant barrier to SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these testing COVID-19 times, is set to soar. We must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Annick Roetynck says that classing LEVs in the same category as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most light electric vehicles in the L-category are able to achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35kmh, yet classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50kmh. That difference in speed results in very dangerous and unpleasant riding conditions.

    In its proposals to the EC, LEVA-EU cites the Belgian project 365SNEL, carried out in the past 18 months where 106 people tested a speed pedelec for commuting for three weeks. After the test, 20 per cent of participants effectively swapped their car for a speed pedelec LEV.

    The research showed that price was putting off some consumers from investing in a speed pedelec, but LEVA-EU says inflated prices are the result of the complicated regulations facing manufacturers.

    Annick Roetynck said the organisation is campaigning to protect the industry as more people move to LEVs in the future. LEVA-EU acts on behalf of around 50 members across Europe and estimates about three million E-bikes alone were sold in the European Union during 2019. About 98 per cent of these were E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes.

    She said: “It has become very clear to LEVA-EU that the European technical rules for LEVs are hampering their market development. Research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules. As a result of these rules, riders are often forced to ride in dangerous conditions because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening.

    In an open letter to the Presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, LEVA-EU also calls for an amendment to the EU Green Deal. Even though the European Environment Agency has argued that shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objective under the EU Green Deal, the Commission’s Communication has no reference to such a shift. LEVA-EU therefore calls upon the Commission to include the shift to walking, cycling, public transport and using light, electric vehicles (LEVs) as a key element in the Green Deal and consequently put that shift at the centre of the forthcoming strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    In the letter, LEVA-U has rephrased the EEA Statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.

    The LEV market represents an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent alterations to current legislation. We will continue to act as a voice for our members to ensure we remove any barriers to trade and get more people to do their bit for the environment by choosing an LEV.

    LEVA-EU Member Rad Power Bikes testifies:

    LEVA – EU member Arno Saladin, European business manager of Rad Power Bikes in the Netherlands, says the combination of technical legislation and traffic codes is stifling an industry that has great potential. The business has focused on manufacturing e-bikes with a speed of up to 25kmh and maximum power above 250W (L1e-A), but he says that while a business has the time to navigate legislation in different countries, it is often confusing for the consumer.

    He said: “We haven’t expanded our line-up because our customers are facing so much uncertainty when they purchase a product in some countries, so we decided it would be much easier and clearer to produce 250W e-bikes.

    Light electric vehicles are a very new sector of the market but we find that the legislation is not created at a basic level for the consumer to use the products with confidence. That’s why we see a lot of manufacturers not introducing new models even though there is a clear demand for these types of vehicles. It’s a chicken and egg situation where, if the regulations and traffic codes were clearer then more businesses would be interested and the sector would grow. However, the decision makers say that it’s too small a sector to give it attention, but I believe that as soon as the legislators understand what they need to do, this market will rocket.

  7. Is EU type-approval dangerous for speed-pedelec riders?

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    Early February, LEVA-EU, together with the project partners of 365SNEL, organized a European symposium on the legal status and market position of the speed-pedelec. In this symposium, attended by the European Commission, several manufacturers testified about the great difficulties they are having to get their vehicles approved. Furthermore, from the results of the 365SNEL research, it can be deduced that this type approval creates risks for speed-pedelec riders.

    365SNEL is a project subsidized by the Environment Department to investigate the potential of speed-pedelecs for commuting in Flanders. It is one of the (very) few projects in the context of the European Clean Power for Transport (CPT) that focusses on light vehicles rather than on electric cars or other heavy means of transport. It is no coincidence that this project is being carried out in Flanders. That is the only constant growth market for speed-pedelecs in the EU. In 2017, more than 4,500 speed-pedelecs were registered in Flanders, in 2018 that was over 8,500 and last year the 12,000 milestone was achieved. Interesting comparison: in 2019 only half as many electric cars were registered.

    45 km / h?

    In the 365SNEL project, a test fleet of approximately 15 speed-pedelecs was deployed at 10 companies and organizations, varying in size (from small company to international group) and in nature (from educational institution to hospital). The call for test drivers was consistently answered enthusiastically. No fewer than 520 candidates applied. Among them, 106 test riders were selected, who were invited to commute with the speed-pedelec for three consecutive weeks.

    That group was interviewed before and after the test rides to determine the most important motivations and obstacles and which shifts in all this the effective use of the speed-pedelecs caused. In addition, the vehicle itself was also examined. Several findings are particularly relevant for the industry and the government.

    The main motivation for testing was speed. Most of the candidate test riders were under the assumption that they would be able to ride a constant speed of 45 km/h with a speed-pedelec and that they would therefore save a lot of time. None of the test vehicles was able to meet that expectation. The speed-pedelecs with a 350W motor offered a cruise speed of 30 to 35 km/h, those with a 500W motor of 35 to 40 km/h.

    Speed-​​pedelec = moped

    The test riders quickly overcame the disappointing speed performance of their vehicle because they experienced other benefits. In particular, the predictability of travel time and the positive effect on their mental health was a huge boost for many. Only, there is something special going on in Belgium, which explains why the speed-pedelec is a success there and not in the rest of the EU.

    In the technical regulation (Regulation 168/2013), the European Union has categorized the speed-pedelec as a moped. And so, all Member States have slavishly copied that category in their traffic codes; all Member States except Belgium. Thanks to some visionary civil servants, the speed-pedelec in the Belgian traffic code is not put aside as a moped “full stop”, instead a separate category has been created: Moped Class P – Speed ​Pedelec. This made it possible to develop adapted traffic rules with new traffic signs which, by using the letter P, allow or exclude speed-pedelecs.

    Moreover, this separate categorization made it possible to subject the speed-pedelec to the same financial incentives as traditional (e)-bikes. In Belgium, you can enjoy a tax-free allowance of up to € 0.24 if you commute by bicycle, electric bicycle or speed-pedelec. The test riders of 365SNEL covered an average of 21.6 km a day. This can result in more than € 1,300 extra this year, tax-free. Sales are further boosted by advantageous leasing formulas through employers.

    Road safety was an important obstacle before testing. But that concern faded quickly. The test riders felt at ease because of the choice between road and cycle path, which the Belgian traffic code offers. The general rule is that if the speed limit on the road is 50 km/h, the speed-pedelec rider can choose between road or cycle path. If on the road the speed limit is higher than 50 km/h, they are obliged to use the cycle path.

    New means of transport

    During the symposium, Jakob Luksch, CEO of Stromer, confirmed that the adapted traffic code is a crucial element in the Belgian success of speed-pedelecs. In other countries, speed-pedelecs are banned from cycle paths and they must be used on the road. However, if those speed-pedelecs, with a 350W motor, can only handle 30 to 35 km/h on average, then that is a particularly dangerous speed difference with the cars and trucks that you have to ride with. That explains the civil disobedience of some speed-pedelec riders in the Netherlands. If they find it safer on the cycle path, they take their number plate off and put it back on when they are on the road. So far, speed-pedelecs can hardly be recognized anyhow.

    The essence of the regulatory problem is that a speed-pedelec is a new type of vehicle that cannot be squeezed into the old concepts’ corset. It is not a bicycle, it is not a moped, it is a new means of transport. And yet, governments are stubbornly trying to subject the speed-pedelec to outdated rules.

    Mortal danger

    The European technical regulations for speed-pedelecs were originally written for conventional mopeds. This type-approval is an extremely complex, inadequate and extremely expensive affair. Speed ​​pedelecs come under legislation that consists of 1,036 pages of text, which is largely about limiting emissions and about safety features that do not concern speed-pedelecs.

    During the symposium, there were extensive testimonies about the flaws of type-approval. Markus Riese, from Riese & Müller, stated in no uncertain terms that it is not wise for a company to venture into the speed-pedelec market. His company tries to persevere because they believe that speed-pedelecs can contribute to the fight against climate change. Riese & Müller are just about the only ones with a cargo speed-pedelec in their portfolio. The vehicle was part of the 365SNEL fleet and was greatly appreciated by the test riders. Markus Riese immediately pointed to the crux of the matter: “Factor 4 does not allow you to build cargo speed-pedelecs that allows to ride uphill in a safe way. Factor 4 barely allows to achieve 10 km/h and if you are then obliged, for example with 2 children in the front, to ride on the road, you risk their lives.

    Factor 4

    Factor 4 means that the motor may not deliver more than 4 times the power than the rider delivers himself. This assistance factor 4 itself is not mandatory, the speed-pedelec only needs to be tested for the assistance factor. If the power is higher than 4, this means that for instance the frame and forks of the speed-pedelec do not necessarily have to be tested according to the ISO standard for traditional bicycles. Furthermore, the speed-pedelec is no longer exempt from the electric range test. Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. The technical services accredited to approve speed-pedelecs don’t seem to know this either, they are convinced that factor 4 must be complied with and oblige their customers to do so.

    During the symposium, Ianto Guy presented the TRL study on factor 4, which was carried out at the request of the European Commission to investigate the influence of factor 4 on vehicle safety. TRL concluded that due to a lack of accident statistics, it was impossible to determine whether factor 4 had a positive or negative impact on safety. But the researcher still had some interesting footnotes to that conclusion. He confirmed what was established in 365SNEL: “Unless you are Chris Hoy, it is impossible to reach a speed of 45 km/h with a factor of 4.

    He added that torque is the most important factor in the controllability of the vehicle: “Rideability may have a bigger impact on safety than limiting power through a maximum assistance factor. Perhaps this group of vehicles sits very uncomfortably in the type-approval for L-category vehicles

    Industry testifies

    The proposition that torque is much more important than the assistance factor was repeated time and time again that day, including by Tomas Keppens who developed the Ellio through his Belgian start-up. He was one of the few participants who found type-approval a positive thing. He is currently going through type-approval with his vehicle at a technical service and had already taken numerous hurdles. The last one was the so-called steerability test. As described in the Functional Safety Regulation, the test for speed-pedelecs is physically impossible unless you position the pedals so high that the driving position becomes particularly uncomfortable.

    Robbert Rutgrink from Santos had a clear proposal to improve the legislation. He argued for a regulation that would allow “real” speed-pedelecs, without assistance factor and with more powerful motors that allow for 45 km/h. He also argued for allowing a throttle so that “the entire 45 km/h landscape could be used by speed-pedelecs.

    Finally, Arno Saladin brought the story of Rad Power Bikes. As far as we know, that is the only producer of powered cycles in L1e-A and a three-wheeled cargo speed-pedelec in L2e-U. Rad Power Bikes chose these categories because they found it impossible to create a pedal assisted vehicle that would function properly with a maximum continuous power of 250W.

    Once they had ploughed through the type-approval, they still had to cope with another major struggle: explaining to the different Member States where and how they had to fit these vehicles into their traffic code. This only worked flawlessly in Belgium, where the government decided to put  1e-A vehicles completely on a par with conventional bicycles, so no helmet, no driver’s license, no license plate, … In all other countries, Rad Power Bike was confronted with insurmountable problems, which proved really insurmountable in Great Britain, preventing them from getting their vehicles on the road there.


    Furthermore, the symposium was peppered with countless examples of major and minor obstacles in the type-approval for speed-pedelecs. For example, you must mount the brake levers exactly the  opposite way of what is common practice for bicycles. However, this is not allowed by the German traffic code. The most recent anomaly dates from January 1 this year, when the World Motorcycle Test Cycle 3 (WMTC) has become applicable. As a result, all vehicles in L1e-A and L1e-B must be submitted to an energy consumption test, which is technically impossible to perform on vehicles with pedal assistance. The original purpose of that test was to measure fuel consumption, with a view to monitoring the environmental performance of internal combustion engines. It was clearly never the intention to subject electric vehicles to this test. Unfortunately, their explicit exclusion was overlooked.

    Instead of considering the principle, the current discussion with the Commission is about how the test can be turned and twisted so that it becomes feasible for pedal assisted vehicles. This will result in yet another goalless test at the expense of the producer, or rather at the expense of the consumer. 365SNEL clearly shows that the price of speed-pedelecs is an obstacle.

    Steep prices

    The European type-approval pushes the price of a speed-pedelec in the direction of a cheap car. That car is also subject to type-approval, but the procedure is specifically designed for cars, the manufacturer is used to it and he can sell approved types in series with at least five zeros. Speed ​​pedelecs come under an inadequate and very expensive system, in which in the best case one type will be sold in a circulation of a few thousand.

    In the run-up to Regulation 168/2013, the European Commission assessed the impact of the then newly proposed rules. In that assessment, type-approval cost for speed-pedelecs was estimated at € 10,000. In reality, that cost is at least 4 times higher and with that, we are not taking into account the enormous development costs to be able to meet the type-approval.

    Since its formation, LEVA-EU, the European professional association for companies in the light, electric vehicle sector, has been striving for a structural improvement of the rules for electric bicycles in general and speed-pedelecs in particular. The symposium was an excellent opportunity to submit a proposal for fundamental changes to the regulations to the Commission and to industry.

    LEVA-EU proposes

    Currently, only electric bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W are excluded from the type-approval. Vehicles that are outside the scope of the type-approval automatically come under the Machinery Directive. This Directive contains general safety instructions for a wide range of products. However, the Machinery Directive allows a sector to develop a European safety standard for their specific product within CEN/CENELEC, the European standardization body. That is exactly what happened for the “conventional” electric bikes. As soon as they were excluded from the type-approval, the technical committee that is competent within CEN for bicycles started to write a standard for electric bicycles. This EN 15194 is an instrument for the industry to comply with the safety regulations of the Machinery Directive. Manufacturers may test and certify their products according to that standard themselves; they are not obliged to work with a technical service. This system is adequate, accessible and affordable for producers. In 2018, it is estimated that more than 2.7 million electric bicycles were put on the market under this legislation in Europe. The regulatory framework does not cause any significant safety issues.

    That is why LEVA-EU proposes not only for electric vehicles, but for all zero-emission vehicles for individual transport up to a maximum speed and weight, to be determined in consultation with the industry, to be excluded from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. This will allow for the abolishment of the L1e-A category, whilst the offer of vehicles will become much more varied. LEVA-EU considers it essential to delete the current power limit of 250W. It is much more important to control the acceleration instead of the power. The technological limitations (pedal assistance only) must also be removed from the law in order to make technological developments possible.

    An electric bicycle with a motor assisting up to 25 km/h which, for example, has a throttle in addition to pedal assistance, may well considerably improve safety. Among other things, it allows drivers to start quickly when the lights go green and to obtain the necessary acceleration to escape from dangerous situations.

    Technological and market development

    Zero emission vehicles for the transport of passengers or goods up to a certain speed, to be determined in consultation with the industry, must also be excluded without a power limit from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. Within CEN, a working group has recently been set up to write a standard for cargo bikes. The above-mentioned exclusion will offer that working group the opportunity to develop an accurate standard for well performing vehicles. Now the 250W is a huge obstacle to the technological and market development of e-cargo bikes, although that market offers fantastic prospects.

    For zero emission vehicles up to 45 km/h with a maximum weight, to be determined in consultation with the industry, the European Commission should, according to LEVA-EU, carry out a new impact analysis to determine the best way forward. LEVA-EU believes that there are two solutions. Either, these vehicles could be excluded from the L category, which means that they automatically come under the Machinery Directive and it gives CEN the opportunity to write a standard. Or the Commission creates a totally new category, completely separate from the current L category, in which a type-approval is being developed, specifically for light zero emission vehicles up to 45 km/h with a maximum weight.

    As a result of this, Member States would no longer slavishly categorize speed-pedelecs and other light zero-emission vehicles in the L category in the moped category of their traffic code. They would be forced to reflect on an adapted position of these vehicles in their traffic code and about adequate traffic rules and terms of use.

    New study

    Efren Sanchez-Galindo, who represented the Commission, followed the discussions during the symposium with great attention. At the end of the day, he acknowledged that there is a lot of room for improvement, but he added an ominous statement. He argued that further exclusions of electric bicycles and speed-pedelecs from the L category and associated type-approval were unlikely because several Member States had approached his unit with a clear question. They want the Commission to examine whether and how light, electric vehicles such as electric scooters and self-balancing vehicles can be included in the type-approval. The request originates from Member States who have quite a few problems at home to get the new mobility phenomena regulated.

    The European Commission intends to order a study on this issue some time this year. If that study argues that, for example, e-scooters should be classed under the L category, all hell will be loose. In that case, there would be no arguments left to even keep conventional, electric bikes out of L-category. And the consequences of such a conclusion would be simply catastrophic!

    Annick Roetynck,
    LEVA-EU Manager

    This article is also available in Dutch, contact Annick Roetynck for a copy, tel. +32 9 233 60 05 , email annick@leva-eu.com

  8. Bebat: Belgian Battery Take Back Solution

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    Make sure you are legally compliant when putting light electric vehicles onto the Belgian market

    Does your company import and/or sell battery-operated light electric vehicles such as e-bikes, e-scooters, hoverboards, monowheels or other light elctric vehicle excluded from type approval onto the Belgian market? If so, you have to fulfil the take-back obligation. Read all about it in this article.

    The principle is simple: the Belgian take-back obligation requires you to take back your Belgian customers’ waste batteries from light electric vehicles. This legislation applies to all companies that import and/or sell battery-operated light electric vehicles, excluded from type-approval;  onto the Belgian market. The take-back obligation also applies to online sales and any other forms of distance selling by non-Belgian companies.

    Considering organising it yourself? Quite complex!

    The consequences of this legal obligation should not be underestimated. You are responsible for the collection and processing of waste batteries and accumulators. You must also draw up an individual waste prevention and management plan setting out how you comply with your obligations. These reports are to be submitted to the regional authorities: OVAM for the Flemish Region, Bruxelles Environnement for the Brussels Capital Region and DSD for the Walloon Region.

    Let Bebat take on your take-back obligation

    Complying with the take-back obligation is a considerable challenge, both logistically and administratively. Do you prefer to spend your time and energy on your core business? Then join Bebat, the collective management body established by the industry. They look after the practical implementation of the take-back obligation. Bebat collects the batteries at no cost and ensures that the used batteries are properly recycled. So all you have to do is to inform Bebat them how many and which types of batteries you brought to market.

    Are you compliant for 2020?

    In just 2 minutes, you can check whether you fulfil the obligations regarding the collection and recycling of batteries. And – if you’re not compliant right now – you can find out which solution is best for you.

    Do the test and discover if your company is legally compliant for 2020.


  9. E-Scooters with Saddle = L1e-B Moped

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    We notice a growing number of e-scooters on the market with a saddle. In the majority of cases, these vehicles are being marketed as e-scooters, which would have the same legal status as their counterparts without saddles. This is undeniably incorrect and wrong. Companies that sell e-scooters in this manner are selling illegal products.

    Should their customers have an accident with such a vehicle, the company will without any doubt be held liable. However, it doesn’t even have to come to an accident. If the economic inspection knocks on the door, they will more than certainly confiscate the vehicles and take the company to court for their illegal trade practices. Moreover, through the RAPEX system all member states will be informed that the company is selling illegal vehicles, which have been impounded.

    E-scooters with a saddle are NOT excluded from Regulation 168/2013 and must therefore be type-approved as an L1e-B moped. As a result, in the national traffic codes, the vehicle will have the status of a moped. Some member states have in their traffic code a separate category for 25 km/h mopeds, for instance in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. In these countries, the vehicles will come under that category provided that their maximum speed is 25 km/h. This means that all the moped rules with reference to helmet use, position on the road, driver’s licence, insurance and minimum age must be complied with.

    Some countries have in their traffic code a special category for e-scooters without a saddle but also for self-balancing vehicles, electric hoverboards, electric monowheels, etc. In Belgium for instance, this category is called “propulsion vehicles” (voortbewegingstoestel – engins de déplacement). Their maximum speed should be 25 km/h and they have to follow the same terms of use as conventional bicycles. As a result, there is for instance no helmet obligation, no motor vehicle insurance, no driver’s licence, … The minute that same e-scooter is equipped with a seating position, it is a completely different ball game, since the vehicle comes under the traffic code category “mopeds” with its respective terms of use.

    With that it also appears, that a large number of companies who produce, export, import and market e-scooters (without a saddle) in the EU are not well informed about the technical regulations that apply to these vehicles. They, as well as self-balancing vehicles, monowheels, hoverboards, etc. come under the Machinery, RoHS and EMC Directives and this brings about a whole range of technical requirements and administrative obligations.

    LEVA-EU has all knowledge and expertise to provide companies who need further information on these rules and regulations with all necessary details. Furthermore, LEVA-EU is in the process of making an overview of national terms of use in the member states.

    Contact LEVA-EU Manager, Annick Roetynck, tel. +32 9 233 60 05, email annick@leva-eu.com

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