Police, transport dept finally take note of e-bike menace
Government agencies are addressing the nuisance caused by mini electric bikes in Mumbai, including haphazard parking, rash driving, and breaching of traffic signals. The bikes are not regulated under the Motor Vehicles Act or transport department rules, making it difficult to enforce regulations. Citizens have complained about the misuse of the bikes, and officials are urging the e-bike operator to ensure proper parking.
MUMBAI: Government agencies for the first time are taking note of the nuisance caused by mini electric bikes, launched by BEST last year for last-mile connectivity. The Mumbai traffic police, who have been getting a plethora of complaints about haphazard parking, rash driving and breaching of traffic signals, recently raised the issue with the transport department. Residents of Churchgate also raised the issue on social media.
Parrag Jaiin Nainutia, principal secretary (transport), pointed out the problems of regulation of e-bikes, which do not come under the Motor Vehicles Act or transport department rules. As per the Act, e-bikes, considered an alternative to bicycles, are exempt from registering with Regional Transport Offices since their battery capacity is less than 250 watts and their speed limit is 25 kmph. Because of this, even a driving licence is not mandatory for riders.
However, the 25 kmph speed limit is often only on paper. RTO officers agreed that there are instances where buyers, with the help of the manufacturer, tweak the batteries of e-bikes to increase their speed. Indeed, in May 2022, the transport department and RTOs had taken action against e-bike manufacturers for modifying batteries.
Meanwhile, citizens have been complaining about haphazard parking and the misuse of e-bikes. On November 28, the Churchgate Residents Association raised this issue with the traffic police and BEST. The Vogo e-bikes, which were launched by the BEST undertaking in June 2022, were wrongly parked on the road, blocking the movement of other vehicles. This was particularly bad outside Churchgate railway station and the housing societies and colleges on B Road and C Road.
“The initiative by BEST for last-mile connectivity is good,” said Ashishkumar Bairagra, a resident of Churchgate. “However, it is not serving the desired purpose since the e-bikes are being used for joy rides, given that a rider does not need to be above a certain age or have a driver’s license. BEST should ideally create proper parking stands behind the bus stops and make sure that the ride ends only when the bike is parked on the stand.”
Residents said that young children and gig workers also rode the bikes on the Marine Drive pavement where pedestrians walk. “The e-bikes are parked randomly on the road and even outside residential societies,” said Preetam Sagane, president of the Federation of Churchgate Residents. “It is dangerous for pedestrians, especially senior citizens, as they are often also driven in the wrong direction. They have become a menace.”
Meanwhile, BEST officials said they had informed the e-bike operator to ensure that vehicles were parked close to the bus stops and not haphazardly on the road. BEST launched these e-bikes in June 2022, with a base fare of ₹20 for 3 km and ₹1.50 per minute.