Powered personal transportation
Ebikes, pedelecs, battery-powered scooters.This content is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters it addresses.
Frequently asked questions
An electric bicycle, e-bike or booster bike is one with an electric motor. There are many types of e-bikes from those that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power e.g., Pedelecs to more powerful e-bikes that do not need to be pedalled at all i.e. power on demand unless the rider wishes.
An electric scooter is a small platform with two or more wheels that is propelled by an electric motor. Besides the motor the rider can also propel the electric scooter forward by pushing off the ground.
Regardless of the type of bike, its speed or whether it requires a push start, the rules are as follows:
- If it can be powered by mechanical or electrical power alone (i.e., it can continue without you pedalling or scooting it) then it is considered to be a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle’ (MPV).
- Under road traffic law if an MPV is used in a public place it is subject to all of the regulatory controls that apply to other vehicles i.e., it must be roadworthy, registered, taxed and insured.
- The driver of the vehicle must hold the appropriate driving licence and is obliged to wear a crash helmet.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1961 at Section 3(1) (a) and (b) it is defined as ‘a vehicle intended or adapted for propulsion by mechanical means, including.
(a) a bicycle or tricycle with an attachment for propelling it by mechanical power, whether or not the attachment is being used,
(b) a vehicle the means of propulsion of which is electrical or partly electrical and partly mechanical, but not including a tramcar or other vehicle running on permanent rails.’
Refer to the MPV definition above including the legal definition. If you are still unsure seek legal advice. We do not assess vehicles on a case-by-case basis to ascertain whether they are MPVs or not. It is the legal obligation of the vehicle owner to ensure that their vehicle complies with all the regulations applicable to the category of vehicle concerned.
You will need to contact Revenue. In order to register an eBike or battery scooter it will need an EC cert of conformity (CoC) from the manufacturer.
If the manufacturer cannot supply a COC this means your eBike or scooter can only be used on private property or purpose-built tracks.
Currently no. However, under road traffic law it is the owner and driver’s responsibility to ensure their vehicle is kept in a roadworthy condition at all times when used in a public place. All parts and equipment must be in good working order. Failure to do so can result in prosecution.
L1e to L7e categories cover a wide range of two, three and four wheeled vehicle types.
This depends on whether the bike or scooter in question is an MPV or not. It is illegal for persons under the age of 16 to ride an MPV in a public place. If the bike is not an MPV there is no law against children riding it in a public place. We strongly recommend that young children should always be supervised if riding in a public place.
There is no law against them however it is important to note that the addition of the engine may result in your bike being treated as an MPV which means it will have to be roadworthy, registered, taxed, insured etc. In addition, any conversion must be carried out to an appropriate standard so as not to render the vehicle unroadworthy, unsafe or likely to cause an incident.
Regardless of the type of vehicle if it can operate on mechanical or electrical power alone - even if you initially have to pedal, push or scoot it to get it going - then it is considered to be a mechanically propelled vehicle (MPV). Under Road Traffic law if an MPV is used in a public place it is subject to all of the regulatory controls that apply to other vehicles i.e., it must be roadworthy, registered, taxed and insured. The driver of the vehicle must hold the appropriate driving licence and is obliged to wear a crash helmet.
You will need to contact your local council or local authority where you intend to travel as some of them have introduced local byelaws prohibiting the use of eco-vehicles in some designated areas.
The RSA have carried out a review on the current practice and safety implications of electric personal mobility devices at the request of the Department of Transport, for more information see its recommendations.
If they can be powered by mechanical or electrical power alone i.e., can go without you pedalling or scooting it, then they are considered to be a mechanically propelled vehicle (MPV). See extract below.
Irish Law (standards of vehicles for use on Irish roads) and Licensing Rules:
The Road Traffic Act 1961 defines a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle’ as:
“means, subject to subsection (2) of this section, a vehicle intended or adapted for propulsion by mechanical means, including-
a bicycle or tricycle with an attachment for propelling it by mechanical power, whether or not the attachment is being used,
a vehicle the means of propulsion of which is electrical or partly electrical and partly mechanical,
but not including a tramcar or other vehicle running on permanent rails;”
Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 specifies that a person shall not drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place unless they are in possession of a driving licencing appropriate to that vehicle.