Policy

EXCLUSIVE: HONG KONG TO LEGALISE E-SCOOTERS IN 2023

A Ninebot F40 e-scooter in Wan Chai: such machines have been illegal to ride other than at very limited government trials

E-scooters are set to be legalised in Hong Kong next year, with a bill to be introduced to LegCo in early 2023, according to a high-level industry source with knowledge of the matter.

According to the source, the Secretary for Transport & Logistics Lam Sai-hung is preparing legislation that would see certain “e-scooters” and possibly other e-mobility devices legalised for use on cycle paths.

The source says the legal framework would likely be along the lines already mooted by Transport Department (TD): this would see only devices bearing CE marks and meeting certain technical standards allowed, with only devices below a certain power approved, and then only for use on dedicated cycle tracks. It is thought helmets would be mandatory, in-line with government plans to make helmets mandatory for cyclists and aligning with government e-mobility trial protocols.

Electric cargo bikes would not be covered by the new legislation, which would limit the physical size and power of devices to smaller than the standard e-cargo available.

The government has, until now, stymied the widespread adoption of e-mobility devices such as e-scooters and e-bikes, with police making hundreds of arrests of those using the devices and TD rolling out just three limited trials on portions of cycle track, two of which ran for just 48 hours each.

The latest trial, running for six months from Hong Kong Science Park, has seen just 40 users sign up, according to TD figures.

But the slow uptake of trial registrations perhaps belies the e-mobility interest in the city, according to sources in the community, with the TD trials limiting legal use of e-scooters and other approved e-mobility devices to the cycle track only.

Riding the device to the trial from home, the MTR or public transport would be illegal. And with most e-mobility devices not designed for carrying, the legal limitation has put users off.

Lawmakers last week question the government on its e-mobility policy, with concerns over fire risks of low-quality devices. The government revealed there had been 30 fires caused by e-mobility devices in the last few years, at least one of the fatal. Proponents of legalising the devices say this will make them safer.

E-mobility makers and associations have been contacted for comment on the new laws.

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