Earlier this week, China’s biggest cities – Beijing and Shanghai – banned the use of electric scooters and segways on public roads, citing safety concerns. The traffic authorities in both cities issued verbal warnings to riders, and fined them 10 yuan (US $1.50). According to one report, electric scooters might also be banned in Guangzhou soon.
With many looking to escape traffic congestion, electric scooters, modified bicycles and segways have become a popular mode of transportation in China’s rapidly growing cities, which face increasing congestion. According to GPS maker TomTom’s traffic index, Beijing ranked 14th when it came to traffic congestion, with the average trip taking 38% more time than it should, while Shanghai ranked 28, with the average trip taking 36% longer. Ghangzhou ranked 22.
Although electric scooters are supposed to have a maximum speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour), the Beijing Consumers’ Association reported that most vehicles on the road exceeded that. One of the biggest challenges is that there are no national safety standards for electric vehicles, which evade categorization as either motor or non-motorized vehicles according to Chinese law.
In spite of the ban, electric scooters are still common on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai.