Electric Bicycles and the Municipal Code

Aachen-based Trianel GmbH, a utility founded in 1999 by municipal and regional utilities, started selling electric bicycles (pedelecs) last year. The legality of the sale of the electric bicycles, which require the rider to pedal in order to activate the motor, has now been questioned. It has been argued that the sale would not be in compliance with the Municipal Code (Gemeindeordnung) of  North Rhine-Westphalia.

Electric bicycle sales have recently experienced rapid growth. According to the Bicycle Industry Association ZIV, 2010 saw records sales of 200,000 electric bicycles, an increase of 33% compared to 2009. Trianel says it sold some 200 bikes over the winter. Sales of up to 500 bikes are expected by the end of March.

Liberal Democrat expert on economic matters Dietmar Brockes criticised the sale by Trianel, arguing it would violate the Municipal Code of North Rhine-Westphalia (GO NRW),  to the detriment of local commerce, the newspaper Rheinische Post writes.

The new Section 107 a para 2 GO NRW, which has been included in GO NRW with the latest amendment of December 2010, stipulates that services connected directly with the electricity, gas and heating sector can be provided by public utilities if they promote the main business. While Mr. Brockes denies a direct connection with the main business, Trianel argues that pedelecs are only offered at special rates (EUR 1,750 instead of an average price of EUR 2,000) if customers sign up for an environmentally-friendly electricity supply as well.

Pursuant to Section 107 a para 2 sentence 2, municipalities ensure that if services are provided the interests of small companies, in particular from the craft sector, are taken into due consideration. Trianel claims that the specialised trade has been involved, Rheinische Post says.

According to the paper, Mr Brockes intends to submit an inquiry to the NRW coalition government formed by the Social Democrats and the Greens. It will be interesting to learn the government’s interpretation of the recently revised Section 107a GO NRW.

Trianel has already announced a project of its e-mobility network for electric scooters, which shall also be sold.

Source: Rheinische Post; Trianel

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