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中文版 (Chinese version):“「電動輔助單車」不可踩馬路”

What is an “electric assisted bicycle”? What is the difference between these and ordinary bicycles?

Electric-assisted bicycles, as the name suggests, are bicycles that are mainly human-powered and supplemented by electricity. The way to move forward is to pedal with both feet. When the speed reaches 25 kph or above, the electric motor will cut out. Above 25 kph, such machines are entirely dependent on human power.

This offers the following advantages:

1. Better strength when going uphill, which helps to overcome gradients.

2. The same human energy output can support longer distances.

3. Saves effort, helps overcome the weight of freight, and helps Hong Kong commuters avoid the problem of arriving sweaty at their workplace.

4. Allows people of lower physical strength, or with slight disabilities or injuries to use bicycles.

In terms of driving speed, university research[1] shows the speed of ordinary people using electric-assisted bicycles is similar to that of ordinary bicycles, and some researchers [2] have found that using electric-assisted bicycles can also achieve the same amount of exercise as using ordinary bicycles.

What is the difference between “electric-assisted bicycle” and “electric bicycle”?

“Electric-assisted bicycle” refers to a bicycle (or tricycle) equipped with an auxiliary electric motor that operates only in support of human pedal power. It will only provide motor assistance when the user is pedalling. When a certain speed (generally 25 kph) is reached, the motor assistance stops.

“Electric bicycles” on the other hand refer to fully electric-powered bicycles, which do not necessarily have pedals (and are controlled by a throttle, like a motorbike). The speed and horsepower are often higher than for electric-assisted bicycles. In the laws of various countries, there are usually different regulations for “electric-assisted bicycles” and “electric bicycles”.

In Hong Kong, more and more people use electric scooters and electric-assisted bicycles, and the public and the Legislative Council are increasingly calling for the development and regulation of this area. It is hoped that Hong Kong can catch up with the world.

Recent developments in Hong Kong include the Government’s briefing on the results of the review on the use of electric mobility devices in Hong Kong, at the meeting of the Legislative Council Committee on Transport held on 19 June 2020, and the introduction of a regulatory system.

The Transport Department (TD) is currently planning to amend legislation to allow electric mobility devices (such as electric scooters, electric-assisted bicycles, etc.) to be used on the cycling track (only), and is seeking communication with the industry. On 14 October 2020, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance attended a meeting to exchange views between TD and invited cycling groups.

The discussion paper submitted by the TD to the Legislative Council and organizations mentioned that “electric mobility devices” will be divided into three categories:

(i) PMD, or Personal Mobility Device: common examples are electric scooters, two-wheeled electric scooters and electric unicycles; electric bicycles that do not need to be pedalled but are powered at high speed will also be classified as a PMD.

(ii) PAPC, Power Assisted Pedal Cycles: electric-assisted bicycles or tricycles equipped with an auxiliary electric motor and driven only in assisted pedalling mode to support pedalling force. Provide power but when reaching a certain speed, such as 25 kph, power assistance will stop.

(iii) “Electric personal mobility aids” PMA, Motorised Personal Mobility Aids (common examples are electric wheelchairs).

The Hong Kong Cycling Alliance has long striven to promote a welcoming environment for cycling in Hong Kong. Among the various “electric mobility devices” mentioned above, the Alliance is particularly concerned about the regulatory plan for electric-assisted bicycles.

This paper will not discuss “electric bicycles”, “electric scooters” or “electric wheelchairs”, the speed and horsepower of which may be greater than for electric-assisted bicycles..

Regulatory recommendations and discussion of the Transport Department

TD stated in the “Administration’s paper on review of the use of electric mobility devices in Hong Kong” (LegCo Document No. CB(4)698/19-20(02), hereinafter referred to as the “Paper”), that the government had reviewed the practices and regulations of 12 jurisdictions/cities, namely:

  1. Shanghai;
  2. Singapore;
  3. Tokyo;
  4. Seoul;
  5. Queensland (state), Australia;
  6. Victoria (state). Australia;
  7. the United Kingdom
  8. Germany;
  9. France;
  10. Barcelona;
  11. Washington DC; and
  12. New York State;

and used this review as a reference to formulate Hong Kong’s regulatory approach.

Regarding the circumstances in which the use of electric-assisted bicycles on the carriageway is permitted, the paper states:

“All jurisdictions/cities studied allow the use of electric assisted bicycles on the carriageway (if there is a dedicated bicycle lane on the carriageway, the electric assisted bicycle must use a dedicated bicycle lane)” (Paper page 3).

Since all 12 regions/cities allow the use of electric assisted bicycles on the carriageway, it is strange that TD recommends that electric-assisted bicycles should not be allowed on the carriageway.

TD’s reasoning, echoing its long-held opposition to cycling in the urban areas, is “We have carefully considered the local road conditions. The current road infrastructure design is centred on automobiles, and there is no dedicated cycle line. In fact, even in a non-central commercial area, Hong Kong is crowded with people and vehicles. Many roadside activities are also very frequent, so we recommend…electric assisted bicycles should not be allowed to be used on the carriageway.” (Paper, page 4).

Looking at many foreign examples, the usual practice is to basically treat “electric-assisted bicycles” (that is, they provide motive assistance only when pedalled, with motor assistance cutting out at around 25 kph) as a regular bicycles, because as long as the electric power is limited to a certain low level in terms of technical specifications, the actual performance of this “electric assisted bicycle” is very close to that of a normal bicycle [1], so it is suitable to be classified as a general bicycle.

This concept is applied in the European Union, the United Kingdom, North America, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and even China, and other advanced cycling countries. It is also feasible in the practical experience of various countries.

Ask the Transport Department why can electric assisted bicycle not use the road?

So why is TD still choosing to go against the trend of the world’s advanced laws and regulations, insisting to exclude electric-assisted bicycles from the roads and only recommend pedalling on the bicycle track?

The rationale given by TD is still the old-fashioned argument, that is, “there is no bicycle lane on the road”, “there are more people and more cars in the city”, etc.

And this so-called “reason” has been said for more than 20 years, right?

During this period, cities such as London and New York, which once had these same attitudes of “there is no bicycle lane on the road” and “there are many people and many cars”, have turned into bicycle-friendly cities!

In 2020, Hong Kong is still discussing how to prohibit electric-assisted bicycles from appearing on roads in the city!

The question in front of us is why ordinary bicycles can travel on the road, but 25kph electric-assisted bicycles can’t?

In the exchange meeting between TD and the cycling group, one of the reasons given by the TD was that electric assisted bicycles were not safe on the road. Then why is it that electric-assisted bicycles are less safe on the road than ordinary bicycles? Is it safer to ride on the cycling track only? If safety is a consideration, in theory, electric-assisted bicycles on the road should be safer than ordinary bicycles, because they should be safer if the speeds on the same road are similar to traffic (the average speed of traffic in Hong Kong is about 20 kph)

We think the authorities only need to refer to the European Union to regulate the technical specifications of electric-assisted bicycles, and treat electric-assisted bicycles as ordinary bicycles. It is the most reasonable approach to allow electric-assisted bicycles to use roads and cycle tracks.

On the contrary, the government has inspected 12 countries/regions/cities in the world and found that all of them have unanimously approved the use of electric assisted bicycles on the roads, yet our government still restricts the use of electric-assisted bicycles on the road.

To limit their use to cycling tracks, the authorities must provide very strong justifications to prove that electric-assisted bicycles are less suitable for use on the road than ordinary bicycles. Does the Transport Department have such a rationale? Otherwise, banning the use of electric bicycles on the road appears illogical and contrary to common sense. It only continues the unreasonable policies of TD which are blindly unfriendly to bicycles.

The following table: Regulations on the use of electric assisted bicycles on roads, cycle tracks and footpaths in various jurisdictions.
(In all locations, a driving licence is not required to ride an electric assisted bicycle on a road or a bicycle track.)

City/countryOn the roadOn the bicycle trackOn the pavement
ShanghaiYes (if there are no special lanes, keep to the right of the road)YesNo
TokyoYesYesYes (under 13 years old or over 70, speed limit 10 kph
SeoulYesYesYes (from 2018), children, elderly and disabled
QueenslandYesYesYes (pedestrian priority)
VictoriaYesYesYes (people under 13 or disabled)
UKYesYesNo
GermanyYesYesYes (under 10 years old)
FranceYesYesYes (under 8 years old)
BarcelonaYesYesNo
Washington DCYesYesYes (except for city centre)
New York StateYesYesNo
TaiwanYesYesNo
Regulations on the use of electric-assisted bicycles on roads, cycle tracks and footpaths in various jurisdictions.

[1] A comparative health and safety analysis of electric-assist and regular bicycles in an on-campus bicycle sharing system. regular bicycles in an on-campus bicycle sharing system.

https://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/2445/

[2] Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259019821930017X

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English version: https://hkcyclingalliance.org/power-assisted-pedal-cycles-not-allowed-on-road-eng

什麼是「電動輔助單車」?與普通單車有什麼分別?

電動輔助單車故名思義是以人力為主,電力為輔的單車,前進的方式終歸是靠雙腳踩踏,當速度達到每小時25公里或以上時,電動輔助就會被切斷,每小時25公里之上就要完全靠腿力的輸出。電動輔助的最大用處不在於高速,而在於每小時25公里以下時的輔助:

1. 上斜時更好力,有助於克服斜坡;

2. 同一出力可踩更持久更長距離,有助於克服長途旅程;

3. 省力,有助於克服貨運負重及減輕勞動,有利於香港夏季通勤減少出汗後要上班的問題;

4. 讓體力稍為遜色人士及腳患康復者也能使用單車。

行車速度上,外國有大學研究[1]指出一般人使用電動輔助單車在行車速度上和普通單車近似,也有研究[2]指出使用電動輔助單車代步也能達至於好像使用普通單車一樣的運動量,有益健康。

「電動輔助單車」和「電動單車」有什麼分別?

「電動輔助單車」指裝設一個輔助電動馬達及只以輔助腳踏模式驅動以減輕腳踏用力的電動輔助單車(或三輪車)。只會在使用者踏腳踏時提供機動輔助,當達至某一速度(一般為每小時25公里)便會中斷機動輔助的單車。「電動單車」指全電力驅動的,不一定有踏板,通常速度及馬力可以比「電動輔助單車」更高。在各國的法律上通常對「電動輔助單車」及「電動單車」兩者有不同的規管。

在香港,電動滑板車及電動輔助單車等在香港越來越多人使用,而巿民及立法會對推動這方面的發展及規管上的呼聲也越來越大,盼望香港能追上世界的發展。香港最近期的發展包括政府當局於2020年6月19日舉行的立法會交通事務委員會會議上簡介了有關在香港使用電動可移動工具的檢討結果,以及引入規管制度的建議。運輸署當局現正就計劃修訂法例以容許電動可移動工具(如電動滑板車,電動輔助單車等)於單車徑上使用與業畀交流,香港單車同盟也應邀出席了2020年10月14日運輸署與單車團體的交流會議。

運輸署提交給立法會及團體的討論文件上提到會把「電動可移動工具」分為三大類:

(i) 「電動個人移動工具」PMD, Motorised Personal Mobility Device(常見例子有電動滑板車、兩輪電動踏板車和電動單輪車);不用踩踏而有動力高速前進的電動單車也會被歸類於此為「電動個人移動工具」;

以及

(ii) 「電動輔助單車」PAPC, Power Assisted Pedal Cycles(裝設一個輔助電動馬達及只以輔助腳踏模式驅動以減輕腳踏用力的電動輔助單車或三輪車。只會在使用者踏腳踏時提供機動輔助,當達至某一速度例如每小時25公里便會中斷機動輔助。);

(iii) 「電動個人移動輔助工具」 PMA, Motorised Personal Mobility Aids(常見例子為電動輪椅)

香港單車同盟一向注意推動香港的單車友善,在以上各種「電動可移動工具」之中本同盟特別關注到「電動輔助單車」的規管計劃;在此暫不討論速度及馬力有可能更大的「電動單車」、「電動滑板車」與「電動輪椅」。

運輸署的規管建議及討論

運輸署在提交立法會的「政府當局就檢討電動可移動工具在香港的使用提供的文件」(立法會CB(4)698/19-20(02)號文件,下稱「文件」)中表示曾檢視了12個司法管轄區/城市的做法和規管方式,包括 (1)上海、(2)新加坡、(3)東京、(4)首爾、(5)澳洲的昆士蘭州和(6)維多利亞州、(7)英國、(8)德國、(9)法國、(10)巴塞羅那,以及(11)美國首都華盛頓和(12)紐約州,並以此為參考製定香港的規管方式。

而就准許在行車道上使用電動輔助單車的情況,「文件」中表示:

「所有研究的司法管轄區/城市都准許在行車道上使用電動輔助單車(如行車道上已設有專用單車線,電動輔助單車均需要使用專用單車線)」(「文件」第3頁)

雖然所有十二個地區/城市都准許在行車道上使用電動輔助單車,但是很奇怪地輸署卻建議電動輔助單車不應獲准在行車道上使用

運輸署的理由是「我們已仔細考慮過本地的道路情況。現時的道路基建設計以汽車為中心,並無任何專設的單車線;而實際上,香港即使在非商業中心區,人多車多,路旁活動亦十分頻繁,因此我們建議…電動輔助單車不應獲准在行車道上使用。」(「文件」第4頁)

觀乎眾多國外的例子,慣例做法是基本上把「電動輔助單車」(就是只會在踩踏時提供機動輔助,當達至某一速度例如每小時25公里便會中斷機動輔助的那種)當作一般的單車去處理,因為只要在技術規格上把電動力限制在某一個低水平,這種「電動輔助單車」實際表現和一般單車很接近[1],所以很適合歸類為一般的單車去管理;這個方向理念在歐盟、英國、北美、澳洲、日本、台灣以至中國這些單車先進國家也是如出一轍,在各國的實踐經驗上也很可行。

問運輸署「電動輔助單車」為何不可踩馬路?

那為什麼運輸署仍然選擇逆世界先進法規之風而行,硬要把電動輔助單車排除於一般單車可以使用之路面(馬路)之外而只建議可於單車徑踩踏呢?運輸署所給的理據仍然是那套老掉牙的論述,就是「馬路並無單車線」巿區「人多車多」等,而這所謂「理由」已經講了超過廿年吧?這期間那些曾經也是「馬路並無單車線」及巿區「人多車多」的城巿如倫敦、紐約等都已變身為單車友善城巿了!2020年香港仍然在討論如何禁止電動輔助單車在巿區馬路出現!面前的問題是為什麼一般單車可以踩馬路,每小時25公里的電動輔助單車反而不可以?運輸署與單車團體的交流會議上,運輸署所給的其中一個理由是電動輔助單車在馬路上不安全。那為什麼電動輔助單車在馬路上為什麼比普通單車更不安全?而只可以在單車徑踩踏就更安全?如果安全是考慮,理論上在馬路上電動輔助單車應該比普通單車更加安全,因為同一路面上車速相近的話是理應更為安全(巿區平均車速大約每小時廿多公里)。 我們認為當局只要參考例如歐盟把電動輔助單車做好技術規格的規管,並把電動輔助單車當作為普通單車一樣的處理,容許電動輔助單車便用馬路及單車徑,這是最合情合理的做法。
相反,如果檢視了全世界12個(連同台灣共13個)國家/地區/城巿而發現全部都一致准許在馬路上使用電動輔助單車,卻仍然反其正道而把電動輔助單車限制只可以在單車徑上使用,當局就必須要提出非常強的理據,去證明電動輔助單車比普通單車更不適合在馬路使用,運輸署有這樣的理據嗎?否則禁止電動輔助單車使用馬路可能只是不合邏輯及違反常識的做法,只是延續了運輸署一向盲目地對單車不友善的不合理政策。

下表:各地電動輔助單車在馬路、單車徑及行人路的使用法規
(無論在馬路、單車徑踩電動輔助單車,各地都不用領取駕駛執照)

國家/地區踩馬路踩單車徑踩行人路
上海可以,馬路上如無非機動車道時靠行車線的右側行駛可以不可以
新加坡16歲或以上可以可以,限速25公里/時不可以
東京可以可以13歲以下70歲以上及殘障者可以,限速10公里/時
首爾可以可以(2018年起)兒童長者及殘障者可以
昆士蘭州可以可以可以,行人優先
維多利亞州可以可以13歲以下或殘障者可以
英國可以可以不可
德國可以可以10或歲以下可以
法國可以可以8歲以下可以
巴塞羅那可以可以不可
華盛頓DC可以可以可以(巿中心除外)
紐約州可以可以不可
台灣可以可以不可
國家/地區踩馬路踩單車徑踩行人路
各地電動輔助單車在馬路、單車徑及行人路的使用法規

[1] A comparative health and safety analysis of electric-assist and regular bicycles in an on-campus bicycle sharing system. regular bicycles in an on-campus bicycle sharing system.

https://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/2445/

[2] Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non-cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259019821930017X

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