Fast electric bikes to be forced off the road
Many of the mainland's army of battery-powered-bicycle riders will have to abandon their bikes soon after the central government ordered local authorities to begin eliminating those that are faster or heavier than allowed by a 12-year-old regulation.
Many electric bikes on sale today can average 35km/h, while the fastest can travel at 45km/h, the Yangtse Evening Post reported.
The rules say that electric bikes should weigh no more than 40kg and travel no faster than 20km/h. However, as the rich flocked to buy cars, growing demand from the mainland's less-well-off led most manufacturers to produce faster and heavier electric bikes - resulting in a steady increase in accidents and deaths.
There have been calls for the rules to be revised but no practical progress has been made.
'The percentage of such bikes is big. Some say 80 to 90 per cent of electric bikes exceed the standards. But there's no authoritative statistics so far,' said Hu Gang, vice-president of leading electric bike producer Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle.
The Beijing Youth Daily yesterday quoted China Bicycle Association official Lu Jinlong as saying that the mainland now had 120 million electric bikes on its roads.
Hu said a set deadline for the elimination of electric bikes would not be practical. 'The government cannot do this on its own,' he said. 'It has to negotiate with the companies and ask them for help.'
He said companies were opposed to limiting the speed and size of bikes.
The new directive caused uproar after it was reported by mainland media yesterday.
A joint notice issued by the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in mid-March said local governments should 'limit and eliminate' the use of electric bikes that breached regulations within a set period.
At the end of 2009, the central government postponed a plan to reclassify large electric bicycles as motorcycles after opposition from industry players and consumers, amid fears that more than 2,000 factories would close and millions of users would need to apply for motorbike licences.