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Thursday March 10, 2011

Govt may ban electric bicycles

PUTRAJAYA: Electric bicycles may be taken off the road if the Cabinet accepts a recommendation from the Transport Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said he will be presenting a paper during Friday’s Cabinet meeting to recommend disallowing electric bicycles, citing safety reasons.

He said continuing to allow electric bicycles, which have battery-powered motors, could result in a higher risk of injury or death.

“Electric bicycles do not meet the performance specifications of motorcycles.

“It is more than a bicycle but less than a motorcycle,” he told The Star on Tuesday.

While Kong acknowledged that electric bicycles were good for the environment, he stressed that the higher risk of death and injury from collision did not warrant their usage.

“If you want to talk about being environmentally-friendly, using a normal bicycle is still the best,” he pointed out.

He added that an electric bicycle could not be classified as an electric motorcycle.

“Anyone can use it as there are no restrictions on who can use a bicycle,” he said.

“There is no need to register an electric bicycle or obtain a driving licence, road tax, insurance or registration number.

“Any young child will be able to use the electric bicycle without a crash helmet and that means a much higher risk of accidents,” he cautioned.

Kong said the paper to be presented to the Cabinet would reveal all the facts involving electric bicycles.

Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan said in a statement that electric bicycles currently being sold were designed to travel more than 40km per hour.

“According to road safety studies, bicycles that move at more than 20km per hour pose a much higher risk of injury to pedestrians, especially when both share the same lane,” he said.

Solah added that facilities for cyclists like special lanes were currently limited to residential and recreational parks.

“Cyclists, who use routes other than designated ones, will be exposed to the risk of traffic accidents and contribute to the overall number of accidents,” he cautioned.

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