The party’s Infrastructure Spokesperson was commenting on the legislation which came into effect yesterday (Wednesday, May 13).
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon brought to the Assembly new electric bike legislation allowing their use on public roads without the need for registration or licensing.
Welcoming the development, Mr Beggs said: “At a recent Infrastructure Committee meeting (April 29), we discussed the item SR 2020-31 The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.
“The Statuary Rule has been widely supported, but it appeared that the final Assembly approval for the use of electric bikes was to be delayed. I spoke at the committee highlighting that electric bikes could assist commuters during the coronavirus pandemic and gained the support of the committee to write to the business office encouraging the early completion of the legislative process for this new Statuary Rule.
“At present e-bike users in Northern Ireland are legally required to have a moped licence, register the E-bike with DVLA and have a licence plate. Regulations governing e-bikes in GB changed over four years ago.
“I am pleased that following the final Assembly process in the Assembly chamber on May 12, we will be following the same guidance as exists in the rest of the UK and unnecessary beuacracy governing the use of e-Bikes in NI will come to an end.”
Commenting on the regulations, Nichola Mallon said: “This will be an important step to encourage more people regardless of age or physical ability to take up cycling to improve their health and wellbeing which has taken on more importance since the outbreak of Covid-19. I hope that the Assembly can send a clear message to the people of Northern Ireland, that we must change the way we live not only in the midst of this crisis, but to also tackle the climate crisis, reshaping our world and opening new opportunities that enhance our communities and our wellbeing.
“As we move towards the recovery phase of this emergency, using electric bikes to travel to work or for recreational purposes would provide an opportunity for people to consider an alternative way to travel or enjoy their daily exercise.
“I recently announced the creation of a Walking and Cycling Champion within my Department and a key role for them will be to ensure that we deliver our commitment to increase the percentage of journeys made by walking and cycling.”
Sustrans Interim Director Stephen Martin added: “This new legislation is long overdue and would be a welcome boost for cycling in Northern Ireland. Cycling is already being embraced during this pandemic and this would enable many more people to try cycling.
“E-bikes help more people get out of their cars and to travel in a more green and active way. We know e-bikes are particularly appealing to older people, those less able and residents in hillier areas or with long commutes.
“It is vital this potential development is supported by safe infrastructure for cycling. We hope to see the pop-up cycle lanes the Minister referred to last week quickly implemented.”
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