Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Energy-efficient e-bikes restricted by Chinese cities

(Renato Ganoza/flickr/cc)

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are often touted as a solution for Asia’s clogged streets. They’re a fuel-efficient transport option with two distinct advantages over cars and motorbikes: less noise and no fumes.

So why are they being restricted by Beijing and other Chinese cities? Liu Quin reports for Chinadialogue that the crackdown is in response to reckless drivers who ride on sidewalks and defy traffic rules.

In Beijing, where there are an estimated 4 million e-bikes, the battery-powered two-wheelers accounted for 37 percent of traffic accidents last year, the article says. That translates to more than 31,000 collisions and 113 fatalities. According to Chinadialogue, the capital restricted e-bikes on ten major thoroughfares. Shenzhen confiscated 18,000 e-bikes in March and arrested almost 900 drivers.

Critics see government overreach and a missed opportunity to promote an affordable transit option well-suited for high-density environments, Qin reports. Another concern is that the e-bikes clampdown would encourage wider car ownership. That would worsen traffic and pollution levels in already congested cities grappling with air quality problems. E-bike proponents contend that dedicated lanes and improved urban planning would allow this burgeoning technology to flourish.


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