INFRASTRUCTURE Minister Nichola Mallon has confirmed she will bring forward legislation to encourage use of electric bikes.
Speaking during a visit to CS Lewis Square in East Belfast to meet with Sustrans, a charity responsible for promoting active travel, Minister Mallon said: “Being more active is important for the body and the mind.
“Since I’ve been appointed Minister, I have made it clear that my focus is doing what I can to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland.
“Connecting communities and encouraging more active travel, will in turn help to create a cleaner environment and tackle the impact of climate change. Making a real difference by enhancing opportunities for people and our places is central to my key priorities.
“Getting more people to walk, cycle or use public transport for every day journeys will have huge benefits for all of us, cutting down on traffic congestion, and reducing air pollution as well as the added benefits to our health and well being.
“In the coming months I want to see what I can do to remove the barriers for people who want to do more walking and cycling as they go about their lives and amending legislation for electric bikes is something I plan to do as soon as possible.
“While it is currently legal to ride electric bikes here, this new legislation is required to simplify the requirements around registration, licensing and insurance.
“My department has drafted legislation and I have asked officials to urgently review this work so I can put amended legislation before the Assembly as soon as possible and deliver life enhancing opportunities for our citizens and our communities.”
Welcoming the announcement, Sustrans Interim Director Stephen Martin said: “This is terrific news for making cycling more inclusive.
“We know e-bikes are particularly appealing to older people, those less able and residents in hillier areas or who have longer commutes.
“It is of economic benefit to retailers as this will boost sales, and the tourist industry as we know there is a untapped market for visitors who wish to use e-bikes.
“This new legislation will allow Northern Ireland to finally catch up with the rest of the UK and Europe where e-bikes are leading a transformation of mobility. E-bikes help more people get out of their cars and to travel in a more green and active way.”