Traffic police gave out 3,000 tickets to riders of electric bikes in 2015 – and intend to give out a lot more in the future – with the tightening of rules on where the bikes can be ridden and who can ride them. Last year, 47 percent of the tickets were given to riders who rode their bikes on sidewalks, with the rest given to riders who did not wear helmets.
Transport Ministry officials, police, and other groups have increased their war against electric bikes in recent months. In December, the Ministry instituted new rules whereby enforcement agents began seizing bikes that can travel 25 kilometers (15 miles) per hour or faster, as well as “souped up” bikes that were changed by purchasers to go faster. According to Ministry figures, the vehicles were responsible for hundreds of accidents last year, with many of the accidents happening on sidewalks, where many of the electric bike and scooter riders insist on riding.
According to the law, electric bikes that travel under 25 kph and have motors smaller than 250 watts are “street legal” without any further licensing or inspection. All of the electric bikes sold in the country adhere to these standards, but many of the purchasers of these vehicles, seeking to go faster, have their rides “upgraded” at workshops to go faster than the legal limit. The Ministry has been taking evidence from owners of these vehicles to track down the locations of these workshops, with the intention of closing them down.
Speaking at a safety event sponsored by police and the Ohr Yarok traffic safety organization last week, Yaron Be’eri, the head of the traffic department of the Israel Police, said that “after many years we are undergoing a change in this area. We have hired 50 new officers to deal with the problem. With more officers out on the street, we will be able to reduce the number of accidents involving electric bikes by increasing enforcement.”