Civic group, lawmaker call for stricter regulation of e-bikes

Legislator Chiang Wan-an (right)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A member of Taiwan’s Legislature and a civic group urged the government on Wednesday to set age, insurance and vehicle registration requirements for electric bicycles, citing their involvement in a rising number of road accidents and a heightened risk to minors.

E-bikes, which do not require a driver’s license to operate and have thus become popular with students, were involved in 3,095 accidents last year, causing 2,679 injuries and deaths, Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), an opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker, said at a press conference.

Of those, minors aged 15-17 accounted for 493 accidents and 420 injuries and deaths, more than double the respective figures of 189 and 156 from five years ago, Chiang said.

In response, Chiang and the Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation called for strengthening regulations in four areas, including setting a minimum age of 14 to operate the bikes and requiring people applying for the approved government rebate after purchasing an e-bike to pass a safety course.

The government should also require drivers to buy insurance, go through a vehicle registration and inspection process and apply for license plates, he said.

Citing the results of a recent survey, the foundation’s president, Lin Yueh-chin (林月琴), said that 25.7 percent of junior high school students in Taiwan have ridden an e-bike, of which 11.2 percent said they had been in some form of traffic accident.

With the number of e-bikes in Taiwan now estimated at 490,000, it is time to take a closer look at things such as age limits, vehicle registration and insurance, said Lee Chao-hsien (李昭賢), an official in the Ministry of Transportation and Communication’s Department of Highways and Railways.

The legislative push comes one year after Taiwan amended e-bike-related provisions in its Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act, requiring the use of a helmet while prohibiting mechanical alterations and setting speed limits.

More recently, 22 lawmakers sponsored a bill to set a minimum age for operating an e-bike and to require vehicle insurance and registration, which is currently in the Legislature’s committee process.