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England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions >> Winter v DPP  EWHC 1524 (Admin) (10 July 2002)
Cite as:  EWHC 1524 (Admin)
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QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
(Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge)
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Smith Bernal Reporting Limited, 190 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7421 4040, Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Miss J Okoye - Counsel for the Appellant
(Instructed by Bindman & Partners, London WC1X 8QF)
Mr Mark Bryant-Heron - Counsel for the Respondent
Mr A Gifford - Counsel for the Respondent for the judgment
(Instructed by Crown Prosecution Service, London EC4M 7EX)
AS APPROVED BY THE COURT
Crown Copyright ©
The relevant statutory provisions are contained in:
(1) Road Traffic Act 1988
“143. Users of motor vehicles to be insured or secured against third-party risks.
(i) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act -(a) a person must not use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks as complies with the requirements of this Part of this Act ...
(ii) If a person acts in contravention of subsection (i) above he is guilty of an offence.
185. Meaning of “motor vehicle” and other expressions relating to vehicles.
“Motor cycle” means a mechanically propelled vehicle, not being an invalid carriage, with less than four wheels and the weight of which unladen does not exceed 410 kilograms.
“Motor vehicle” means ... a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads.
189. Certain vehicles not to be treated as motor vehicles.
(1) For the purposes of the Road Traffic Acts -(c) an electrically assisted pedal cycle of such a class as may be prescribed by regulations so made, is to be treated as not being a motor vehicle.
192. General interpretation of Act
(i) In this Act -
“Cycle” means a bicycle, a tricycle, or a cycle having four or more wheels, not being in any case a motor vehicle.
(2) The Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983.
“3. The class of electrically assisted pedal cycles prescribed for the purposes of (Section 189 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) consists of bicycles or tricycles which comply with the requirements specified in Regulation 4 below.
4. The requirements referred to in Regulation 3 above are that the vehicle shall:-(a) have a kerbside weight not exceeding -(i) in the case of a bicycle, other than a tandem bicycle, 40 kilograms ...
(b) be fitted with pedals by means of which it is capable of being propelled;
(c) be fitted with no motor other than an electric motor which -(i) has a continuous rated output which, when installed in the vehicle with the nominal voltage supplied, does not exceed -
(A) in the case of a bicycle, other than a tandem bicycle, 0.2 kilowatts ...
(ii) cannot propel the vehicle when it is travelling at more than 15 miles per hour.”
(i) The original City Bug vehicle was modified to add two pedals to the front wheel.
(ii) The dimensions of the pedals were one inch wide, three quarters of an inch deep and mounted on cranks which measure one and a quarter inches.
(iii) The pedals do not drive a chain but push the front wheel itself.
(iv) The vehicle was intended primarily to be powered by an electric motor.
(v) The vehicle was capable of being propelled by the use of the pedals alone but it was a difficult and precarious exercise that would require much practice.
(vi) It would be impossible for anyone to use this machine safely on the roads if reliance was placed on the pedals alone.
“Given those findings, were we right to find that the conveyance ridden by the appellant was not “fitted with pedals by means of which it is capable of being propelled” within the meaning of Regulation 4(b) of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983, and that the appellant was therefore guilty of the offence of using the vehicle with no insurance, contrary to Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988?”
(i) The fact that the City Bug’s pedals are fitted to the front wheel, rather than a chain mechanism, and are small, does not render them incapable in fact of propelling the vehicle.
(ii) The purpose for which Parliament enacted the exemption is presumably to treat a means of transport powered by a low speed, lightweight electric engine as a pedal cycle rather than as a motor cycle which, by virtue of its construction it would otherwise be within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 185.
(iii) By virtue of its low speed levels, its lightweight and its non-use of polluting fossil fuel combustion propulsion the electrically assisted pedal cycle is much more akin to an ordinary pedal cycle and to be distinguished from a motor cycle. The point of the electrically powered engine is not to make it faster than a pedal cycle but to make it easier to use for those who do not have (or wish to use) the strength to push the pedals for any length of time.
(iv) The very nature of any cycle with an electric engine means that it is inherently difficult to power by pedals alone because of the resistance created by the engine mechanism and its weight. Such cycles are intended to be used on the road by means of engine power as the primary means of propulsion, not merely to add to the use of the pedals. The existence of the pedals in all current electrically assisted pedal cycles is to a degree cosmetic and for use as a last resort in practice.
(v) There is no reason to conclude that the City Bug is any more difficult to propel by pedals alone than other forms of such transport. The fact that it takes time to learn or master the method of riding it by pedals alone is no different from ordinary pedal cycles. The fact that it is awkward and tiring to do so in practice is no different from other electrically assisted pedal cycles.
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THE DEPUTY JUDGE: I give judgment in this case in accordance with the document handed down.
MS CRADDOCK: May it please your Lordship, I appear for the respondent in this matter. There is, as before in the previous case, an application for costs. I do not have the benefit of a schedule of costs to provide the court, so I would ask your Lordship to make an order that the applicant do pay the respondent's costs subject to taxation?
THE DEPUTY JUDGE: Thank you.
MS LEVINSON: My Lord, it is our application that there is no order for costs in this case. Miss Winter was seeking to clarify an important point of law in relation to -- and it was a matter that involved great environmental and public importance. On that basis, we ask that there is no costs ordered against her.
THE DEPUTY JUDGE: Yes, thank you. No, I am afraid Miss Winter is going to have to pay the costs. The appellant to pay the respondent's costs subject to taxation.
MS CRADDOCK: I am grateful, my Lord.
THE DEPUTY JUDGE: Thank you.