More councils call for action on too fast e-bikes, fatbikes

Photo: Dutch News

In total 43 local authority chiefs have signed a letter to infrastructure minister Mark Harbers calling for action on fast and souped-up e-bikes, particularly the fatbike variant. 

“The people riding souped-up e-bikes, parents on electric cargo bikes, young adults and the elderly on their fast e-bikes, are a danger on the cycle paths,” the letter to the minister states.

In particular, they want an age limit on fat bikes and a ban on making e-bikes go faster. It is illegal to use a souped-up e-bike but the internet and shops are full of systems to speed them up, the transport chiefs say. 

Fatbikes, with large tyres and a robust frame, have surged in popularity since moped users have been required to wear helmets

Amsterdam transport chief Melanie van der Horst told councillors in a briefing earlier this month that she is concerned about the way many young fatbike users put themselves at risk by cycling fast without helmets and adding to problems on the already overcrowded cycle paths. In addition, she said, the drivers are not insured.

This summer, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague asked Harbers if the fatbikes can be moved to the main roads, which in the capital would be an option because the speed limit is being cut to 30 kph next month.

Another option would be to intensify checks, Van der Horst said. Last week, spot checks were carried out on 50 fatbikes on the city’s roads and one third had been souped up to travel at up to 50 kph.

Fatbikes are currently categorised as electric bicycles which means they can travel at up to 25 kph and use cycle lanes. But government officials favour categorising them as mopeds because of the high speeds they can reach. In that case, users would need a helmet, number plate, licence and insurance, Van der Horst said.

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