Strict safety measures needed for electric bicycles

CAP opines that as long as all necessary safety measures are strictly followed, a certain category of electric bicycles may be introduced in Malaysia.

There are many definitions and categories of electric bicycles and the laws in different countries differ accordingly. There are electric bicycles that are capable of attaining a top speed of 60Kph. Since they travel silently at such high speed and are inconspicuous to other motorists, they are dangerous for our road conditions.

We recommend that the electrically assisted pedal bicycle, or e-bicycle, as defined by the European Union (EU) directive will be more suited to our local conditions, provided all safety requirements are met.

The e-bicycle is one which weighs 40Kg; is equipped with an electric motor not exceeding 200 Watts and the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle speed reaches 25Kph, or if the cyclist stops pedaling. Such a bicycle does not require registration, insurance or licence for rider.

For an e-bicycle the following safety measures are essential:

• It is allowed only in restricted areas such as housing estates and campuses;

• It may be used on public roads only where special lanes are provided;

• The cyclist should wear helmet and preferably safety vest  with luminescent stripes to increase conspicuity;

• Manufacturers should ensure the braking system on the e-bicycle is effective and meets safety standards.

As long as all safety measures are observed and the e-bicycle is used responsibly, it will be a good vehicle for affordable and convenient transport for short distances. It also takes up very little space and is easy to park. CAP urges the authorities to amend the laws and provide the necessary infrastructure for the safe use of the e-bicycle. Other categories of electric bicycles are not suitable for our roads.

Letter to the Editor, 25 May 2011