05/02/2020

Mallon Forwards Electric Bike Legislation

The Infrastructure Minister has committed to pushing forward legislation to encourage the use of electric bikes.

Nichola Mallon met with Sustrans, an active travel charity, at CS Lewis Square in east Belfast to promote the issue.

While the use of electric bikes is already legal here, the new legislation would "simplify the requirements around registration, licensing and insurance".

It's hoped the laws will bring benefits for public health, ease congestion on busy roads and lower emissions from long traffic queues.

The SDLP MLA said: "Being more active is important for the body and the mind. Since I've been appointed Minister, I have made it clear that my focus is doing what I can to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland. Connecting communities and encouraging more active travel, will in turn help to create a cleaner environment and tackle the impact of climate change. Making a real difference by enhancing opportunities for people and our places is central to my key priorities.

"Getting more people to walk, cycle or use public transport for every day journeys will have huge benefits for all of us, cutting down on traffic congestion, and reducing air pollution as well as the added benefits to our health and well being."

The Minister plans to put the amended legislation before the Assembly in a bid to deliver the opportunity.
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"In the coming months I want to see what I can do to remove the barriers for people who want to do more walking and cycling as they go about their lives and amending legislation for electric bikes is something I plan to do as soon as possible," Ms Mallon concluded.

Sustrans Interim Director Stephen Martin welcomed the announcement as "terrific news" for making cycling more inclusive.

He said: "We know e-bikes are particularly appealing to older people, those less able and residents in hillier areas or who have longer commutes. It is of economic benefit to retailers as this will boost sales, and the tourist industry as we know there is a untapped market for visitors who wish to use e-bikes. This new legislation will allow Northern Ireland to finally catch up with the rest of the UK and Europe where e-bikes are leading a transformation of mobility. E-bikes help more people get out of their cars and to travel in a more green and active way."

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle also welcomed confirmation of the legislation but said it has taken too long.

"This situation should not have been allowed to develop into the farce it became and which took so long to resolve," the east Belfast MLA claimed.

"While the DVLA eventually resolved the technical error it blamed for not permitting riders here to register the e-bikes, it was a massive mistake in the first place.

"The restoration of the Executive means this issue can be resolved and we can now catch up with changing our society to introduce more sustainable modes of transport such as e-bikes."



(JG/CM)

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