Cycle lanes, paths and tracks are routes designed specifically for use by cyclists. Although their legal definitions differ, the same rules apply in terms of whether ebikes can use them:
A cycle lane is part of a road reserved for pedal cycles which is separated from the rest of the carriageway by line markings. In the UK there are advisory cycle lanes (a broken white line, and which motor vehicles can drive on), and mandatory cycle lanes (a solid white lane, which motor vehicles cannot cross).
A cycle path is a route free from motor traffic that doesn’t run alongside an existing road. In other words, these are distinct routes separate from the road network.
Whereas a cycle track runs parallel to a road, although unlike a cycle lane, is separate from it.
Are electric bikes allowed in cycle lanes, paths or tracks?
The short answer is yes – but there are some ‘ebikes’ that are actually classed as mopeds and motorbikes. These are not allowed in cycle lanes, so it’s worth checking if your bike meets the criteria.
Which bikes are allowed?
If an ebike meets the requirements below, it is classed as a normal pedal cycle. This means it can be used on cycle paths, cycle tracks and anywhere else a pedal cycle is allowed.
- It has a power output of no more than 250w
- An electric motor that assists the user when they are pedalling, and the assistance cuts off at 15.5mph. After this the user will need to keep pedalling to increase their speed
- Can have more than two wheels (for example, a tricycle)
To be legal the information below must be displayed on the cycle:
- the power output or the manufacturer of the motor
- the battery’s voltage or the maximum speed of the bike
The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015 provides the legal definition of an electric bike.
Twist and go throttles
Some models of ebike have a ‘twist and go’ throttle – similar to a motorbike – that can assist the cycle to full speed while pedalling. These can be used in cycle lanes as long as the throttle can only assist up to the speed of 15.5mph.
Some older ‘twist and go’ models assist without pedalling. Any models sold or imported before 1 January 2016 are still classified as electric bikes and can be used in cycle lanes. If they have been bought second hand they are still legal for use, do not need to be registered or tax paid on them.
Models sold or imported after 1 January 2016 may not be legally classified as an ebike – please check if it conforms with the criteria above.
Which bikes aren’t allowed?
Any electric bike that does not meet the EAPC regulations is classed as a motorcycle or moped, and is subject to the same laws as a motorcycle. This includes:
- ebikes capable of assisting users above 15.5 mph
- ebikes with a power output above 250w
Known as speed pedelecs, these bikes are road vehicles and cannot be used on cycle paths, cycle lanes or anywhere else cycles are allowed.
They must be registered with the DVLA for use on public roads. This means they must have:
- a number plate
- a minimum of third party insurance
- users must wear a motorcycle helmet
- users must have an appropriate driving licence
Personal Light Electric Vehicle (PLEV)/Electric Scooters/Powered transporters
Powered transporters include a range of vehicles such as Segways, Hoverboards, U-wheels, powered mini scooters and powered unicycles. They are classed as motor vehicles as they have an engine – whether combustion or electric – and can only be used on private property with the landowner’s permission.
It is illegal to use a PLEV in cycle lanes or on pavements and, because they are low powered, it is also illegal to use one on a road. To do so they would need to be registered with the DVLA with the necessary licences and insurance.
Mobility scooters and wheelchairs
Mobility scooters and wheelchairs – whether powered or unpowered – cannot be used in cycle lanes.