Electric bicycles facing end of dangerous road

08:48, June 20, 2011      

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A salesman at an electric bicycle shop in Beijing cleans his new bikes outside the west gate of Tsinghua University. The ban on electric bicycles in Shenzhen might affect the industry. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, is often acclaimed for its pioneering spirit. As China's first special economic zone, it was transformed from a small fishing village into a major national economic hub.

Now it is making another pioneering move - banning electric bicycles, often referred to as e-bikes, from most of its streets. No small task considering the city has 500,000 e-bike owners.

The ban is for a six-month trial basis, and it could be extended.

A notice released by the Shenzhen municipal commission of transport and the public security bureau cited safety concerns as the reason for the ban.

Last year, according to Shenzhen traffic police bureau, 64 people were killed and 233 were injured in 268 accidents caused by e-bikes. The bikes accounted for 15.7 percent of all road accidents in the city in 2010.

"The bicycles are capable of high speeds and there is no registration requirement," Sun Wei, a traffic management assistant in Luohu district, said.

No registration means no license plate to track down, so riders can easily flee after an accident, making it difficult for victims to claim damages.

The ban will last until Dec 5, when authorities will review it and decide whether to make it permanent. It took effect on June 6 with no apparent drop in the use of e-bikes.

The traffic bureau said a transition period will last until June 30, and until then they are using education and persuasion as the means of getting them off the road.

"So far, we are only issuing an oral warning to riders," Huang Weijiang, from Luohu traffic police brigade, said.

"Riders could switch to a bike or public transport, such as the bus or metro."

Starting July 1, however, riders can be fined 200 yuan ($31) each time they break the new rule.

Meanwhile, other cities are watching with interest. Quanzhou and Xiamen in Fujian province and Chengdu in Sichuan province are considering a similar ban.
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Source:China Daily
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