The electric bicycle: a Chinese singularity
A researcher from the Transport Department of the National Institute of Urban Planning published an article depicting key stages of the electric bicycles’ development in China. Since the early 1990s, electric bicycles expanded rapidly. They are now the major means of transport among the lower class (“laobaixing”). In 2014, there were approximately 200 million electric bicycles in China. However, this means of transportation raises controversies due to the fact that its status oscillates between a bicycle and a motorised vehicle, hence causing legal and Highway Code problems.
The first laws concerning the use of electric bicycles appeared in 1999; since then, they have not been through a lot of changes. An electric bicycle currently cannot exceed 55kg, its speed limit is 20km/hour and the gap between its wheels cannot be wider than 1.20 meter. In contrast to this lack of regulations, Chengdu city decided to impose license plates on electric bicycles and to increase the number of inspections.