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E-bike legislation could help with socially distanced commutes

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.
Guest Newsdesk

Legislation that will make e-bikes legal to use in Northern Ireland is to be fast tracked, with electric bikes and scooters seen as one solution to social distanced commuting.

The electrically assisted pedal cycles regulations for Northern Ireland will allow e-bike owners to use them safely and legally on the roads.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said in February she will bring forward legislation to encourage use of electric bikes.

Her plans are to be put to the executive on Tuesday.

Up until now user faced a £1000 fine for having the vehicles, which can not be insured because of Northern Ireland's lack of regulation, and were therefore illegal.

With E-bikes seen as one of the solutions to encouraging social distancing when lockdown restrictions ease, the SDLP minister is now fast tracking the new regulations.

Particularly appealing to older people, those less able and residents in hillier areas or who have longer commutes.

The minister used a speech last week to lay out a a vision of a "green recovery" with the need to extend pavements, pedestrianise streets and introduce pop-up cycle lanes.

She said she had already identified some areas in Belfast and Derry city centres that could be quickly transformed.

Green Party MLA Rachel Woods welcomed the move to legislate.

Ms Woods MLA said: "I'm glad this situation is set to be rectified after years of frustration and annoyance for owners of e-bikers.

"Most e-bikes have been gathering dust for the past number of years with owners fearful of a £1,000 fine and six penalty points if bikes were taken onto the road.

"The Green Party NI has worked extensively with e-bike owners on this issue and after a lack of progress during the Stormont stalemate I'm pleased that the Minister has taken action.

"The Executive must do everything possible to promote active travel and closing the gap around e-bikes and road legality is an important aspect of that".

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