Call for urgent action on e-bikes as masked riders speed through the city

black and gray motorcycle on green grass field during daytime
Photo: Kilian Seiler/Unsplash.

FORMER Limerick Mayor Cllr Daniel Butler says he has been inundated with complaints from city centre traders on the issue of high-speed e-bikes.

This comes amid growing concerns around public and road safety posed by e-bike users, some of whom have been reported as riding clad in balaclavas and face coverings.

Cllr Butler believes the riders are using the masks to conceal their faces with intentions to act illegally or anti-socially.

The Fine Gael councillor has written to the Departments of Justice and Transport to seek an urgent update on the regulation of e-bikes. This, he said, has come on foot of numerous complaints from Limerick traders and residents in the last few months.

“Many of these e-bikes are achieving speeds of well in excess of 25kph — all weaving in and out of on road car traffic and then onto footpaths.

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“The users have absolutely no respect for law abiding citizens, no respect for Gardaí, and zero respect for our city,” Cllr Butler claimed.

The bikes, he told the Limerick Post, must not by law have a throttle and if they exceed speeds of 25km/h are considered MPVs and must be registered, taxed, and insured. This was voted into law last year on the back on safety concerns with some e-bikes achieving speeds of up to 100km/h.

“I have myself witnessed these groups, of mostly young males, putting the lives of Limerick people at risk of injury or even death. Many of these individuals also often have their faces covered with balaclavas or masks.

“Since Covid, the use of face coverings has allowed those with intentions to act illegally or anti-socially to go about without being easily identified.

“I am also asking government to look at this and to see if this can be regulated.”

The City West representative went onto say that Gardaí need more support to act, before calling on them to seize e-bikes on site.

“An aggressive stance is required on this issue and those selling these high speed e-bikes must be regulated and prosecuted accordingly. Enough is enough, the law abiding citizens have had enough of the disrespect these individuals have shown them through dangerous driving and intimidation. It’s time to take a stand,” Cllr Butler, a member of the Councils Travel and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee, concluded.

In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport explained that in line with EU law, high-powered and power-on-demand e-bikes, with a power output in excess of 250W or which can achieve assisted speeds in excess of 25km/h, will be reclassed as mechanically propelled vehicles.

“This type of vehicle will be known as an e-moped. As for all mechanically propelled vehicles, e-mopeds will require registration, taxation, and insurance, and users must hold the appropriate AM driver’s licence. The use of cycle lanes will not be permitted.

“The Bill has not yet been finalised and the changes to the classification of e-bikes and e-mopeds do not yet have legal effect. However, the Bill is expected to complete its final stage in the Dáil this week with a view to being signed into law before the end of June 2023.

“The new rules for e-mopeds will be commenced later in 2023, once administrative arrangements to facilitate registration, driver testing, driver licensing, and taxation are in place.”