Apr 13, 2016 06:19 PM

Guangdong City Pay Owners of 'E-Motorcycles' to Take Them Off Street

(Beijing) – A city in the southern province of Guangdong says it will pay the owners of what it calls "electric motorcycles" 500 yuan each to hand them in before they are banned, joining other cities taking similar steps to ease traffic congestion and make the streets safer.

The government of Huizhou, a city about 70 kilometers northwest of Shenzhen, said the offer runs from April 1 to September 30. The vehicles will be banned from the city's roads starting October 1, the statement said.

China's government classifies battery-powered two-wheel vehicles into two categories. Those weighing less than 40 kilogram that can go no faster than 20 kilometer per hour are called "electric bikes," and vehicles weighing more and going faster are called "electric motorcycles."

Huizhou's government announced plans to ban the second category in December, citing safety concerns. It said 64 people were killed in more than 4,000 accidents involving e-motorcycles in 2014 and 2015 – a figure that accounted for 70 percent of all traffic accidents in the city.

The city had more than 266,000 licensed e-motorcycles on its streets as of June 2014, police told the Southern Metropolis Daily late last year. This means the government may have to cough up as much as 133 million yuan if all owners take the payout.

A search on an e-commerce website shows that an e-motorcycle costs from 1,500 to 3,000 yuan apiece.

Two major cities in China have recently taken steps to get electric motorcycles off their roads recently.

Last month Shenzhen banned electric motorcycles and tricycles, drawing complaints from e-commerce and delivery companies whose businesses rely on the vehicles. More than 800 drivers have been arrested and nearly 18,000 vehicles impounded since the crackdown started on March 21, traffic police in the city neighboring Hong Kong said.

On April 11, the government of the capital banned e-bikes and e-motorcycles on 10 major downtown roads to "enhance traffic regulation and ensure road safety."

(Rewritten by Chen Na)

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