Electric bike accidents with kids rise

By Zhang Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-31 07:52
Large Medium Small

The number of cases involving electric bicycle accidents with primary and secondary school students has increased by 700 percent, Fengtai district court said on Tuesday.

Wang Jianzhong, vice-head of the minor cases tribunal of Fengtai district court, told METRO that in 2009, they handled a total of 38 student injury cases, of which more than one fifth involved electric bicycles. In 2007, they handled just one case concerning a student injured by an electric bicycle, and there were no cases in 2008, Wang said.

According to Wang, poor school management, the violation of traffic rules, and the students' carelessness are the main reasons for the growing number of students injured by electric bicycles.

The injury cases usually happened near the schoolyard either as the students arrived or as they left school for home, Wang said. Though he admitted that some also happened on the weekends, when the victims were playing near their home.

On July 9, 2009, Li Yue, an 11-year-old girl from Fangxingyuan primary school, Fengtai district, was crossing the road on her way to school when she was hit by an electric bicycle that ran a red light at almost 40 km/h.

Li sustained a fracture to her left leg and lost two teeth in the accident.

The court ruled the rider, a man surnamed Liu, 31, should assume total responsibility for the accident as he was breaking the law and ruled he should compensate the girl 20,000 yuan.

Electric bicycles pose a big safety risk because of their speed, Zhou said. Electric bicycles, which were classified as non-motor bicycles in 2007, can exceed 40 km/h, far beyond the national regulation of 20 km/h, and some can even reach 60 km/h.

"The majority of drivers haven't had formal training, and they often drive in the wrong direction, compete with other motor vehicles for the right-of-way, and run red lights," he said.

Wang Lixin, a bicycle trader, said: "The electric bicycles have poor stability, and a fast speed, and sometimes, when the rider brakes, the back wheel still runs, which can easily cause slides."

There are now 2,400 electric bicycle manufactures nationwide, and two million electric bicycles are sold in the Chinese market annually.

Since 2007, there has been a heated debate concerning whether electric bicycles should be included in the motor vehicle management regulations. In December 2009, "the electric bicycle over 40 kg, with a speed of more than 20 km/h" was to be included in the motor vehicle management area scheduled to be carried out in January. However, its implementation has been postponed.

(China Daily 03/31/2010 page26)