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Proposal urges changes to regulations on e-bikes

By SHI JING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-27 09:04

Several staff members unload packages at a transfer station in Shanghai. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Differentiated technical standards and supervision should be introduced for electric bicycles used in the food delivery and courier industries.

That's according to a proposal submitted by delegates from Shanghai who attended the two sessions — the meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee — in Beijing this month.

Data from the State Post Bureau said that there are more than 4 million express couriers in the country.

Despite the convenience such services bring to consumers, the proposal echoes concerns about the safe use of e-bikes, which have arisen over the past few years.

Specifically, the technical standards for battery capacity and the bikes' maximum loading weight should be raised for vehicles used for delivery purposes, the proposal said. A special tag should be attached to distinguish these vehicles from ordinary electric bikes, and a smart control system should be pre-installed to prevent any possible modifications. Also, there should be special regulations for the disposal of such bikes, which wear out quickly as they are used more frequently than regular bikes.

The technical safety specifications for electric bicycles released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in May 2018 should be revised to update the related standards, the proposal said.

According to the Road Traffic Safety Law, an electric bike should not weigh more than 55 kilograms, while the battery's nominal voltage should not exceed 48 volts. While the designed maximum speed of e-bikes is set at 25 kph, they should not be driven faster than 15 kph.

Li Feng, a deputy to the National People's Congress and a purchasing manager with Shanghai Panda Machinery, said electric bikes used in the courier and food delivery sectors rarely meet the standards in terms of load and battery capacity, as many riders have added extra equipment to carry more items.

Others have modified their vehicle to raise the maximum speed and have also expanded the battery capacity, allowing the bikes to go much farther and faster.

Of all accidents related to electric bike batteries in Shanghai in 2021 that resulted in injury, 31.3 percent were caused by the illegal installation or modification of batteries by delivery riders, according to data included in the proposal.

The delegates also suggested that electric bikes should be registered separately when sold to takeout and express delivery riders, which would make it easier for local governments to carry out targeted supervision and allow easier monitoring of manufacturers.

Differentiated regulatory measures, including punishment methods and fine limits, should also be introduced for riders, the proposal said. Riders with many violations should be placed on a blacklist, while companies should shoulder their responsibilities for safety management to straighten out the riders' illegal driving habits.

Electric bikes are the most widely used vehicles among China's takeout and delivery riders. The Shanghai government estimates that there are about 100,000 express couriers and 300,000 takeout riders working in the city, and each one uses at least one such bike.

Speeding, riding in the wrong direction and ignoring red lights are the most widely seen violations among delivery riders.

Last year, Shanghai dealt with more than 3,000 such cases every day, accounting for 20 percent of all daily traffic law violation cases in the city, according to information in the proposal. It noted that the laws that oversee delivery riders can also be applied to workers in the home decoration sector and domestic helpers, who carry their tools on e-bikes during their daily commutes.

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