The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled this Thursday that electric bicycles are not a vehicle subject to the obligation to have civil liability insurance obtained from the circulation of the vehicle because, although there is a Assisted pedaling machine is not activated only mechanically. force. The ruling responds to a preliminary ruling from a Belgian court following the case of a cyclist who died as a result of serious injuries sustained in a collision while riding an electric bicycle on public roads.
In the process of establishing a possible right to compensation, it was raised whether a bicycle with pedal assistance should be considered a vehicle because the motor only offers assistance and is activated only after use of muscular force, by pedaling or pushing. Its legal classification depends on whether the victim can claim compensation as a vulnerable user of public roads or not, since it is considered a motor vehicle, in the sense that it appears in the European directive on civil liability which is obtained from the circulation of motor vehicles. .
In its decision on Thursday, the European High Court pointed out that the directive does not specify whether mechanical force must play an exclusive role in the operation of a car, but it refers to “motor vehicle insurance”, an expression that “traditionally refers” in common language, to civil liability insurance obtained from the circulation of machines that operate only by mechanical force such as cars or trucks.
Thus, it added that the purpose of the community standard is to protect victims of traffic accidents caused by motor vehicles and it does not require that pedal-assisted bicycles be included in the concept of ‘vehicle’ included in the directive. In the eyes of the Luxembourg-based Court, an electric bicycle, which can accelerate without pedaling up to a speed of 20 km/h, can cause damage to third parties comparable to a motorcycle, car or truck.