Cyclist falls foul of e-bike law

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Cyclist falls foul of e-bike law thumbnailChris McGrotty hopes to warn others about local laws which treat e-bikes as mopeds and therefore require a licence and insurance 13403KDR

AN e-biker has issued a warning to fellow riders after falling foul of Northern Ireland's out-of-step laws on electrically assisted cycles.
Sixty-year-old grandfather Chris McGrotty spent a night in police cells and faces court next month after failing a breath test on Thursday April 19.
But with his electric bike now seized by police, he wants to warn others about local laws which treat e-bikes as mopeds and therefore require a licence and insurance.
“I checked it out and, as far as I knew, you didn't need anything," he said.
“The police even security marked it for me and they never mentioned I needed a licence or insurance."
The drama unfolded last Thursday evening as Mr McGrotty was riding the 500 metres to his brothers house.
“They actually blocked me off in their car and asked me if I had a moped licence.
“I said no and then they asked me if I had insurance and obviously I didn't.
“They called a van and seized the bike, took me to Coleraine Police Station and placed me in a cell.
“And they kept me there overnight."
Mr McGrotty acknowledged he'd failed a breath test.
“I was a bit over," he said.
But, he insisted, he was in full control and not a danger to other road users.
The retired painter and decorator said he suffers from a crushed vertebrae and respiratory problems and thought he'd discovered the ideal way of getting around when he acquired his e-bike three years ago.
“I'm a  disabled man. I can't walk or stand for any length of time.
“What is an old grandfather who has only one mode of transport going to do?"
Mr McGrotty says he's been heartened by the support he's received from well-wishers since last week's incident
“I've had hundreds of messages of support. I couldn't believe how many there were."
According to government website NI Direct, cyclists using electric bikes must undergo testing, have insurance and a motorcycle licence - but only in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Executive never got around to changing legislation when battery-powered bikes became popular, meaning they are classified as motor vehicles in the eyes of the law.
Last year bike retailers Halfords suspended sales in Northern Ireland because of confusion over local laws.
 Police have since confirmed a 60-year-old man has been charged with using a motor vehicle without insurance.
He is also charged with driving with excess alcohol and driving while disqualified.


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