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PHOTO CAPTION: Electric-assist bicycles are exempt, while more moped-like models will have to be licensed.

Beijing Orders Electric Moped Drivers to Get Licensed

Decision causes serious divide among Beijing commuters who love or hate electric bicycles.

Published: 09-Dec-2009

The announcement on November 29 that the city's 700,000 electric bike owners will be forced to take driving tests and acquire vehicle licenses as of January 1, 2010, sharply split public opinion. Those who feel that the bikes' silent motors, high speeds and reckless users make them an unregulated menace on the streets were jubilant. The rest, including the bikes' many riders, groaned at adding yet another layer of expensive bureaucracy to their lives, fearing that this will further impede Beijing's attempts to replace congestive car traffic with "green" transport.

The result of all the commotion came over the weekend with the temporary suspension of the new standard pending the relevant applications from the China Bicycle Association (CBA) formulated to the Standardization Administration of China before December 10, amid accusations that the original standard was a result of intense lobbying from the "motorcycle industry", according to Lu Jinlong of the CBA.

The Standardization Administration of China explained on the night of December 6 that the boundaries between electric motorcycles and bikes were clear. Standard electric bikes (maximum speed under 20 kilometers per hour, total weight under 40 kilograms, and can travel no less than 25 kilometers on one charge) classify as non-motor vehicles. Consumers who purchase or buy them don't need to register for driving tests and vehicle plates.

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