The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles.
Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers.
Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said.
Photo provided by the Consumers’ Foundation
“If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these illegal electric vehicles, they could become a danger to consumers’ personal safety,” the foundation said.
In a spot check last month of 12 vehicles sold on auction Web sites and online retail platforms, the foundation found that five of the vehicles reached speeds exceeding the legal limit, it said.
Two of them reached 60kph, similar to fuel-powered motorcycles with engines between 50cc and 250cc that require white license plates, it said.
The foundation also found numerous video tutorials and online articles on the modification of electric bicycles, for example to remove factory-installed speed limiters, it said, adding that a traffic accident with a modified vehicle might be fatal.
Under stipulations of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), people who exceed the 25kph speed limit can be fined between NT$900 and NT$1,800.
The number of accidents involving electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters in 2018 almost doubled from 2014, but police were still at odds over how to handle traffic violations involving the vehicles, which occupy a “fuzzy space” between bicycle regulations and regulations for heavier two-wheelers.
However, as the vehicles pose an alternative for those without a license or those who are attracted by their low cost — such as elderly people, young people and migrant workers — there is a pressing need for the introduction of clear regulations, the foundation said.
For example, the government could introduce insurance or license requirements that include a written test, as known from regular motorcycle license tests, it said.
This would ensure that riders are familiar with traffic rules, the foundation said, adding that the government must also hold retailers accountable for informing people about the dangers posed by the vehicles, especially if modified, and the importance of sticking to the traffic rules.
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