Electric bicycle riders will soon have to secure a license and wear a helmet before they can hit the road, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Department of Railways and Highways Deputy Director-General Wang Mu-han (王穆衡) said that electric bicycles can travel as fast as lightweight scooters and people have difficulty telling them apart.
There have also been complaints that electric bicycles are a threat to pedestrians or regular bicycle riders if people ride them on sidewalks, he said.
With government data showing that there are 180,000 electric bicycles in the nation, the ministry decided to toughen up regulations as the number of accidents and violations involving such bikes increase, he added.
National Police Agency statistics showed that the number of people injured by electric bicycles rose from 369 in 2011 to 1,495 last year.
The number of deaths also rose from zero in 2011 to four in 2014 and last year, data showed.
Based on the ministry’s proposed amendment to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), electric bicycles would be legally defined as a type of lightweight scooter, and written and riding tests to secure a license to operate the vehicle would be required.
Electric bicycle riders would also need to wear a helmet and would not be allowed to ride on sidewalks.
Manufacturers of electric bicycles must ensure that the vehicle has a mechanism that prevents bicycle retailers or riders from ratcheting up the bicycles’ maximum speed, the ministry said.
While the maximum speed for electric bicycles is set at 25kph, some retailers tweak the machines to raise their speed to 40kph, the ministry said.
To distinguish electric bicycles from lightweight motorcycles, they will have to carry a new certification label in the back that is 25 times larger than the one currently used, the proposal said.
Electric motorcycles sold after July 1 must carry the new certification label.
Owners of electric bicycles that do not have the new certification label may be fined between NT$1,200 and NT$3,600.
In other developments, the National Freeway Bureau said that large passenger vehicles can soon operate on the shoulder road of the northbound lanes of Freeway No. 5 during peak traffic hours all the way from the Yilan Interchange to the large bus checkpoint in Toucheng (頭城).
At present, large buses are allowed to operate on the shoulder road between Yilan and Toucheng Interchanges. The new measure, which is to take effect on Saturday, would extend the stretch further from the Toucheng Interchange to the large bus checkpoint in Toucheng.
Bureau statistics showed that the current measure has reduced the travel time for large buses during peak hours on weekends and holidays by 20 to 30 minutes.
The new measure would further decrease travel time by five to 10 minutes, the bureau said.
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