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February 9, 2012

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Deaths on electric mopeds keep rising

THE death toll involving electric mopeds has remained high in recent years, with officials blaming an increasing number of small but more powerful electric vehicles, some of them illegally retrofitted.

Accidents involving electric mopeds killed 237 people in Shanghai last year, about 20 percent of the total deaths in traffic accidents, the city government said yesterday. The death toll in 2010 was 215.

Many riders died in collisions with large transport and construction vehicles. Drivers of both types of vehicles - the mopeds and the big trucks - are among the top violators of traffic laws such as speeding and running red lights, traffic authorities said.

City officials said yesterday they will strengthen enforcement actions against illegal electric bikes and mopeds.

"We know it's hard to eliminate the illegal electric mopeds and the reckless riding behavior in a short time," said Vice Mayor Zhang Xuebing. "But the broken window theory tells us that if we do not act quickly and rightly, the situation will get worse."

There are more than 2.7 million registered electric mopeds in Shanghai, with an annual growth of 158,000. But another 3 million-plus are unlicensed or from out of town, said Guo Jianrong, the secretary-general of the Shanghai Bicycle Industry Association.

The speed limit for electric mopeds is 15 kilometers per hour and they are to weigh no more than 40 kilograms under the national standards. However by enlarging the battery and other equipment, the speed can reach 60 to 70 kph. Some exceed the standard the moment they're made.


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