Kunming officials are seeking to reform the streets by tightening enforcement for e-bikes across the city...again. This latest policy, released jointly on August 23 by the Public Security Bureau, Urban Management Administration Bureau and the Market Supervision and Administration Bureau, includes eleven articles regarding electric powered two-wheeled vehicles. Article six states both driver and passenger of any electric bicycle or electric scooter must wear a helmet. Other notable points are mandatory helmet provisions by bike-sharing companies, strict street-side parking and community shaming as an added repercussion to traffic infractions.
Public sharing e-bikes such as "Hello" and "Green", if not equipped with a helmet, will be removed and confiscated from the streets. This will make existing helmet laws much easier to enforce as unprotected biker noggins may very well stick out like sore thumbs among the sea of armored heads.
Although running red lights and going against traffic are among the traffic laws expected to be more thoroughly enforced, now parking lawlessly can also be expected to result in a penalty. All e-bikes, including public sharing bikes, must be parked pointing in the same direction in an orderly fashion inside designated areas. Any vehicle found in violation of this will be towed after two hours.
With increasing numbers of e-bikes on the road and a significant number of e-bike-related accidents, according to the Kunming Traffic Police, it is understandable why these regulations are being put into place. Head injuries directly related to e-bike accidents are prevalent, and correct helmet use can lower mortality rates from e-bike and motorcycle accidents by 60 to 70 percent.
Traffic police and other authorities are working hard to lower the number of deaths and injuries related to e-bikes on multiple fronts. Efforts are being made in schools across the city to educate children on the need for wearing helmets. In turn, parents are expected to be headwear role models. Hopefully, this education push, along with stricter immediate consequences for not wearing helmets, will curb the number of preventable injuries.
In addition to fines and the possible confiscation of bikes, the official policy states that non-compliant riders will also receive social pressure through the public notification of his/her employer and community. This could cost the penalized workplace or community the esteemed "civilized" (文明) title.
Already, the Kunming Traffic Police website lists numerous names of penalized delivery workers not complying with traffic laws. The website is also explicitly clear with the reasons for these increasingly strict regulations by featuring numerous videos involving e-bike accidents.
So, buckle up your helmets, Kunming!