Cycling

“FIRST TIME IN DAYLIGHT”: E-MOBILITY TRIAL DRAWS A CROWD

On a Segway-type device in Tseung Kwan O today. “There’s a learning curve, but it’s great fun once you get the hang of it,” said the rider

Most of the riders today used e-scooters

Dozens of e-scooter and electric unicycle riders took to the cycle paths of Tseung Kwan O this weekend, the first time riders have been able to legally use their machines in Hong Kong..

Around 80 riders were pre-approved for the four-day Transport Department trial, which gave special permits to certain e-mobility devices for a 1.4km stretch of cycle track in Tseung Kwan O. Most riders used e-scooters, with a few unicycles and one folding e-bike seen today.

One user said it was the first time he’d ridden in daylight, preferring the cover of night for illegal riding. “There’s less chance of being caught at night!” he said, although he said police had been more aggressive against e-scooters lately.

Another rider said he had 10 e-scooters in his collection. “I hope they will legalise it as soon as possible,” he said. “Maybe we can take reference from Singapore’s regulations, and quickly allow people to use these for commuting and leisure and to alleviate congestion problems and environment problems.”

Of his 10 scooters, the rider said he had brought along his favourite, a white Minimotors scooter, designed in Korea, and sold locally for around $3,000.

While some in the community had criticised the complex application process for the site trials, which required a full driving licence and detailed technical specifications of the machine, all participants quizzed in Tseung Kwan O today said the government was going in the right direction with the trial. One rider said he had friends who had given up with the”troublesome” application process, but that nothing would have kept him away. “Transport Department is doing a great job,” he said.

Most local residents polled said they welcomed the trial, with several expressing concerns over the speed and silence of e-scooters on pedestrian paths. One said all path users needed to be considerate of others, pointing to a runner blocking the way of two young bicycle riders on the cycle track, and said the bike paths and pavements nearer to the MTR station were already quite crowded.

A leading food delivery company also took part in the first day of e-mobility trials yesterday, preferring not to be named until the trial was completed. That company says it is examining the concept of using e-scooters for food delivery, with an emphasis on safety, with a source saying the devices may be more suitable than bicycles. Separately, the Environment Bureau said it would be happy to subsidise the cost of e-scooters for food delivery companies, should the trials be successful.

Officials said they would video interactions during the trials to see if there was a big difference in driving behaviour between users of e-mobility devices and those on e-bikes. However, there was no evidence of video monitoring today – most marshals holding direction signs appeared bored and were looking at their phones rather than watching the track.

“The site trial aims to gain operating experience in regulating the use of [e-mobility devices] on cycle tracks and test the effectiveness of certain safety requirements,” says a government spokeswoman.

An e-scooter rider in Tseung Kwan O today, wearing the regulation helmet and hi-viz tabard supplied by the trial organiser: only pre-registered riders were allowed to use e-mobility devices during the trial

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