Shanghai mulls restrictions for electric bikes

Updated: 2013-02-06 17:11

By Shi Yingying (

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The local legislature in Shanghai plans to discuss a draft regulation on restricting electric bikes as well as other non-motor vehicles in late March as they are pouring onto the city's streets and causing a slew of traffic accidents.

Whether to ban the sale and registration of overweight and over-speed e-bikes as well as how many persons a bicycle or e-bike can carry will be highlights of the hearing.

Earlier regulations introduced in 1998 required e-bikes to travel no faster than 20 km/h. But many on the road today are much faster than that.

Neither manufacturers nor retailers are willing to heed the rules. E-cyclists are equally complicit.

“You don't have to observe any traffic lights or any traffic regulations and you can ride anywhere, even on the sidewalk,” said a salesman at an e-bike shop in a Shanghai suburb. “You don't even need a driver's license.”

The draft regulation, however, stipulates that those non-motor vehicles without legal registration would be banned from the road, and violators could face a fine ranging from 50 to 200 yuan ($8 to $32).

It also requires cyclists or e-bike riders to carry only one juvenile under 12 years old. A fixed infant bicycle seat is a must for those who want to carry preschool children. Those aged between 12 and 16 are not allowed to carry anyone. The previous regulation forbid those under 12 years old to ride bicycles on the street.

Electric Bike Worldwide Reports said that of the roughly 29 million e-bikes sold worldwide, the United States and Europe accounted for only 80,000 and 1.02 million, respectively.

While bicycle ownership in China is much higher, at 470 million, there's no denying the popularity of e-bikes, whose numbers have been growing steadily and now total more than 120 million. Annual e-bike sales jumped from 1.5 million in 2002 to 4 million in 2003, and recently hit 26 million in 2011.