China Bans E-Bike Use in Major Cities
SHENZHEN, China – Recent legislation in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and coming soon to Shenzhen forbids the use of e-bikes across large swathes of the cities. It urged Dr. David Hon to write an open letter to the public, and to the government, speaking out against the regulations. The China Bicycle Association (CBA) responded with an official statement in support of Dr. David Hon.
China Bicycle Association (CBA) Director Ma Zhongchao stated that “for Shenzhen and other municipalities to take prohibitive action on e-bikes will have a profound and direct impact on local e-bike users.” See below for the full text of Dr. David Hon open letter.
‘One size fits all’ approach
“The ‘one size fits all’ approach reflects lazy political thinking and we have seen more examples of this simple and crude solution,” Ma Zhongchao wrote. “The bicycle industry has strongly expressed its opposition to such legislation in the past and has repeatedly stressed that local governments and authorities should think twice, act intelligently and with greater courage to address urban management problems.”
“Cities need tangible measures to protect the legitimate rights of way of various means of transport, avoiding costly, car-centric systems”, Ma Zhongchao continued. “The ban on e-bikes has caused widespread discontent and confusion among the Chinese population. The decision is particularly harmful to the poor and appears entirely at odds with the government’s stated policy to promote green energy and cut pollution. There is no reason to forbid the use of e-bikes. Experience in many other countries such as Sweden and Denmark have shown, that China should encourage the use of bicycles, traditional or electric ones, to help reduce car traffic and smog.
200 million e-bikes on the road
Today some 700 Chinese companies manufacture e-bikes. According to China Bicycle Association (CBA), the top ten e-bike companies accounted for 47% of the total production in 2014. China has some 200 million e-bikes running on the road totaling CNY 100 billion (14bn euro) in value, a tenfold increase from 2005. The value of the entire upstream and downstream industry chain has reached CNY 200 billion (28bn euro).
Since 2013, China has set and implemented regulations for the specs and size of e-bike lithium batteries while also a Battery Management System was launched. In October 2014, China reached a strategic collaboration agreement with Germany. With that the Chinese electric car brands will adopt the same charging standards as BMW and Audi. During the first half of 2014, the production of lithium battery equipped e-bikes reached 1.7 million units; an increase of 36% and accounted for over 50% of the total e-bike export.
Currently, major motorcycle manufacturers are entering the e-bike industry at full speed as demand from the motorcycle market shrinks. China’s motorcycle tycoons like Haojue, Zongshen, and Dayun are all investing in e-bikes. This stronger competition forces current e-bike makers to upgrade themselves in order to survive.
The public letter from Dahon founder, Dr. David Hon:
An alternative view on forbidding E-bikes in China
Following legislation in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, it has been reported that Shenzhen may also start to limit the use of electric bikes. Chinese people are getting wealthier and buying more and more cars, which as we know has caused many problems, such as heavy traffic, serious air pollution and poor physical health in big cities. In fact a highly viable alternative to fossil fuel powered vehicles is already available; bicycles and e-bicycles together with public transit form a good system and a true solution to the problem.
The people and governments of Japan and Europe have already made many long-term environmental protection strategies, whilst at the same time making every effort to push energy saving and emission reducing transportation methods. All of these have been proven to perform well. Of Course, China has not been absent from the movement for international environmental protection, with the 11th five-year report (the Chinese government’s five-year development plan) having issued and formulated related goals and budgets towards environmental concerns.
China is the world’s largest manufacturer of bicycles and electric vehicles, with sales of up to 80,000,000 units, accounting for 80% of global turnover. However, there are some cities that are running counter to science and national policy. Why? It is said that citizens themselves have a poor reputation for electric bike safety, further that masses of e-bikes negatively affect a city’s beauty, and finally that battery recycling is mishandled and leads to pollution. But why don’t we instead set up laws more conducive to environmental protection? We could require e-bike riders to obtain a license, and enact severe punishment when they violate the traffic laws. Some may say that there are not enough police officers for this law. Compared with the USA, China employs six times more civil servants in the police force – the biggest quantity in the world. If governments can put more resources into this, I think we can do it well, right?
Above all, has the government thought about the influence on the ordinary people’s income and private life? Have they surveyed the detriment to GDP that will surely follow from such laws (some ordinary people will think it must be prodigious, but the government can enact a comprehensive report)? Does it not follow that more people buying more cars, or riding more often in taxis, will cause pollution to increase? How much money would we need to fix this?
People who cannot afford to buy a car will lose their job; should their lives become more burdened? How can poor people become wealthy? It is not easy to run a country, many contradictions cannot be avoided, but we need to consider things over and over again, and make decisions based on science.
Following the Second World War, many advanced countries have been pushing Green Transport and environmental policies. Velo-city, an annual conference founded in Berlin in 1980, has gained much experience and made valuable progress in the field over the years. The conference has a well-established history and also achieves real results, and has recently begun collaborating with the China Bicycle Association.
We are not sure if the related civil law enforcement authorities have consulted domestic and foreign specialists with an honest and open mind. If possible, they can cooperate with the China Bicycle Association and make a holistic analysis and measurement, in-keeping with the country’s goal of energy conversation and emissions reduction. This method would allow every municipal government make a long term and valid contribution. In this way, once the legislation is formulated and strictly enforced, we must be successful!”