Can You Get a Ticket or Be Arrested For Speeding on an E-bike?February 28, 2023
If you watch enough e-bike related videos on Youtube you will soon come across people who push their e-bikes to speeds that only a motorcycle should be going. And like me, you are probably wondering why these people have not been arrested, or at the very least cautioned as there is video proof of them speeding and riding what is effectively an uninsured, non-MOT’ed motorcycle (because once your e-bike can go faster than 15.5MPH under its own power that is what it is classed as).
Why Are People Who Speed on E-bikes Videos Not Arrested?
OK, before we start jumping onto our high horses, it is probably best to ask the core question here…Does the speed limit apply to e-bikes as well as cars?
The short answer to that question is believe it or not…no! If you read all the UK laws and restrictions regarding e-bikes as long as the core rules are followed (maximum power output of 250 watts & not being able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph) what you are left with is an electrically assisted bicycle that has to follow all the other rules regarding bicycles, cycling and cyclists.
The Rules on Speeding on E-bikes are…Complicated!
Here in the UK cyclists share no legal obligation to adhere to the same speed limits as motorists, but in truth, there are various bylaws in place that could impose speed limits.
According to Slater and Gordon Lawyers, “Rule 123 of the Highway Code includes a table that sets out the speed limits for various types of vehicles on various categories of roads. The table does not include bicycles and there has been NO table made for them meaning they are effectively outside of UK speeding laws!” So you can go as fast as you want where you want? Well…no.
As cyclists (although I prefer to be called an e-biker) who breach the speed limit may not be prosecuted for a speeding offence but they can be prosecuted for “cycling furiously” or “wanton and furious cycling.” Like me, you have never heard of that law there is a good reason for that, as the last such conviction for “wanton and furious cycling” here in the UK occurred in 2008 when a cyclist collided with a pedestrian in Weymouth! And this strange bylaw gets even crazier when you look into the rules that bind it.
A cyclist cannot actually be stopped for “wanton and furious cycling” as the offence only applies if an injury is suffered. An e-bike is considered a carriage under highways law, and The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948) states:
Slater and Gordon Lawyers state “Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”
So once again we are back to it looking unlikely that anything would happen no matter what speed you are going, regardless if there is video proof or not. OK, so technically we e-bikers are not legally obliged to adhere to speed limits as your e-bike can assist you to 15.5 MPH and you could always pedal much faster than that. But surely it is about riding safely and responsibly, looking after your own safety and that of other road users and pedestrians. To be fair I rarely see any e-biker doing much wrong other than enjoying their e-bike. Some people will always want to modify them to crazy speeds, but most people are just happy with the stock speed the e-bike comes with.