Check watt you’re getting this Christmas

Many of us fondly remember the excitement we felt throughout December, desperately hoping we’d have a new bike when we came downstairs on Christmas morning and longing to show it off to our friends at the earliest opportunity.

Being overjoyed at having 5, 10 or what seemed like a ridiculous 15 gears - how times have changed! As technology has progressed rapidly, we now have the luxury of e-bikes to assist us when we’re pedalling; a welcome benefit when riding up a steep hill, of which we have many in Wales.

If you are looking to purchase an e-bike for Christmas, it’s important to check that what you are buying is safe and legal. With so many models available, and second-hand e-bikes offering big savings compared to new models, some people may be unaware that the item they have spent their hard-earned money on could be illegal to use on the road or in a public place.

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can look out for. An e-bike is an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC) which is equipped with an electric motor to assist riders when they pedal. By law it cannot propel a rider on its own - if it does, it is classed as a motorcycle or moped.

An e-bike motor must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph. If an e-bike motor exceeds these requirements, it is not road-legal so please inspect it thoroughly before making a purchase.

To ride an e-bike, you don’t need a driving licence and an e-bike doesn’t need to be registered, taxed or insured. You do need to be at least 14 years old to ride an e-bike though.

As an alternative to a bicycle or e-bike, some people may be considering purchasing an e-scooter, particularly if they have seen others riding them locally. However, please be aware that it is illegal to use a privately owned e-scooter on public roads, pavements or cycle paths. In fact, the only place to legally ride an e-scooter in Wales is on private land with the permission of the land owner - everywhere else it is against the law.

Road Safety Wales is advising retailers to ensure potential customers fully accept that if an e-scooter is purchased and subsequently used illegally, the rider risks being issued with a £300 fine, 6 penalty points on their driving licence and their new e-scooter could also be seized. This could affect people significantly if they plan to learn to drive a car or ride a motorcycle, or if they already do.

Teresa Ciano, Chair of Road Safety Wales said: “Some people may not appreciate the effect that riding an illegal e-bike or e-scooter has. Pedestrians can be put at risk of being knocked over because someone selfishly chooses to ride illegally, with little regard for the law or for other people’s safety.

”Unfortunately, we have already had people killed and seriously injured when riding inappropriately and illegally, we don’t want other families to have to cope with the aftermath of similar heartbreaking incidents.

“For someone with sight or hearing loss, encountering something like this could have such an effect on them that they feel unable to go out on their own, hampering their mobility options and perhaps even resulting in the loss of there independence.”

Enjoying the beautiful Welsh outdoors can be on everyone’s Christmas wish list, but please make sure that you travel actively, safely and legally with gifts that won’t break the law.

Friday, 01 December 2023