Electric bikes are not motorbikes

August, 21/2018 - 10:02

Dr Phạm Sanh, an expert on urban transport talks to the Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic & Urban Affairs) newspaper about which public agency should manage electric bikes in Việt Nam.

Phạm Sanh. — Photo kinhtedothi.vn

Dr Phạm Sanh, an expert on urban transport talks to the Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic & Urban Affairs) newspaper about which public agency should manage electric bikes in Việt Nam.

Do you support the Việt Nam Register’s proposal requiring all electric bikes to be registered as motorbikes?

I don’t quite agree with this proposal from the Việt Nam Register. The proposal is rather odd. Under Vietnamese law, only the Ministry of Transport (MoT) has the power to decide if electric bikes must be registered with the Việt Nam Register or not, based on requests from local authorities nationwide. In this case, if any locality found that accidents caused by electric bikes have become nuisances in their locality, they should submit their request/proposal to the transport ministry to require all electric bike riders be registered.

After receiving the request, the MoT will study it carefully and consult with concerned agencies and then come up with a final decision to revise the Road Traffic Law in Việt Nam. However, under current Vietnamese law, electric bikes are subjected to the management of local authorities, not the Việt Nam Register. In this case, even if the MoT wants to enact any legal documents requiring all electric bikes be officially registered with authorities, the ministry has to consult with all local Governments and win their support.

Do you think the proposal is workable?

Whether we say the proposal is workable or not should be based on the two most important factors: safety and management requirement. If it is based on the management requirement, we have to analyse carefully the impacts of such a requirement during the course of administrative management, both positive and negative.

In my opinion, electric bikes should not be registered with the Việt Nam Register. But we should think of how to organise transport. If we consider electric bikes as motor vehicles as proposed by the Việt Nam Register, we have to analyse carefully the capacity of its motor to see whether the motor should be controlled as written in the law or not.

Do you mean that if we want to manage electric bikes we don’t have to manage them as a motor vehicle?

As we all know, riders of these bikes are old people and children under 16 years old. That’s why in my opinion we should focus on the aspect of safety on the road, not on the plate registration. However, in my opinion, we should come up with a rule saying that electric bikes can only run on certain types of roads and be subjected to inspections just like a bicycle.

How do you respond to a claim from the Việt Nam Register that electric bikes are one of the big reasons causing traffic accidents in Việt Nam?

Regarding this issue, in my opinion, the MoT should conduct a deep and thorough study on the negative impacts of electric bikes in traffic. We cannot equate the traffic movement of electric bikes with motor vehicles. If electric bikes are the culprits of many road accidents, in my opinion, we should think of revising our Road Traffic Law and related laws.

What about the management of electric bikes in other countries?

In developed countries, they have encouraged people to use means of transport which are friendly to the environment, including bicycles and electric bikes.

Regarding the issue of Road Registration, it is done by private agencies while the Government only oversees the manufacturing of auto vehicles. For our country, in my opinion, the transport ministry is the right agency to make the decision, not the Việt Nam Register to decide on the management of electric bikes. — VNS