Related News

Home » Metro » Public Services

Expats on motorcycles often flout law, endanger themselves, others

IT has been almost half a year since Tuvan Murat was fined 700 yuan (US$113) for riding a motorcycle without a license on a Shanghai street. Now the 23-year-old foreign student from Turkey is getting around the city on a slower but maybe safer electric bike.

"I won't ride motorcycles anymore," Murat said. "Too dangerous."

That's no idle observation.

Riders of motorized two-wheeled vehicles are involved in an increasing number of road accidents, Shanghai traffic police said.

Such vehicles were involved in more than 345,000 traffic violation cases last year. More than 50 people - including several expats - were killed in nearly 300 moped-related mishaps. Injuries have been in the hundreds.

Most recently, a Russian student riding an LPG-powered scooter was hit and killed by a sedan in a traffic crash last Monday in the downtown district of Hongkou. Police didn't identify the rider by name.

In a much-publicized accident last year, police said a 33-year-old Frenchman on a scooter ran a red light and died in a collision with a taxi in Xuhui District.

It's a problem in a metropolis choked by traffic. Police worry that it's getting worse.

Illegally refit for power

Many mopeds and scooters have been refit for bigger power. About 80 percent of mopeds and scooters get speeding violations, police said.

Many foreigners, either ignorant of the law or flouting it, don't have proper licensing to operate motorized two-wheel vehicles. But the popularity of the relatively low-cost transport is growing.

Like many other foreigners living in Shanghai, Murat chose first to buy a moped because he thought it would provide fast and fancy wheels, allowing him to weave through automobile gridlock. "I did not even know how to apply for a license when I was first fined," said Murat. "It was a lesson for me."

After his second moped was stolen, Murat bought an electric bike for about 3,000 yuan.

Sonny Huang, a British-born Chinese, said he has given up on motorcycles. "The process to be able to ride a motorcycle is too complex," Huang said.

One issue is cost. The price of getting a license plate for a motorcycle in Shanghai has soared to nearly 100,000 yuan.

Some riders just don't bother, preferring to take the chance that they won't be caught for operating an unlicensed vehicle.

"No one told me that you need a license plate for a scooter," said Kim Joe-nam, a South Korea student at a local university.

He said he had his scooter's structure refit but did not change the engine. He was fined 200 yuan by traffic police for riding an unlicensed vehicle.

Police won't issue license plates to mopeds or scooters that have been refit, but many people who buy the two-wheelers second hand don't realize they have been altered for speed.

Local residency required

Li Bin, a member of the traffic police squad team in Yangpu District, where a few universities are located, said the situation defies easy solution.

"Students ask us how to apply for a license and motorcycle plate here," said Li. He shakes his head and tells them that only people with Shanghai hukou, or residency permits, are allowed to obtain motorcycle licenses.

Police, Li said, advise foreigners to buy electric scooters or bikes if they need faster transport.

"I know that riding a motorcycle might be a tradition back in their home countries, but not here," he said.

Yangpu police said they first started working with the universities to provide road-safety education in 2004, when local residents began complaining about the noisy foreign students joy-riding at night.

"Some of my student friends here bought powerful mopeds," said Murat. "When they were stopped by police, they pretended they couldn't understand Chinese."

"You see, that's the problem," Li Baoyuan, a local traffic police officer, said of the communications problem. Just dropping the matter is "a handy way to deal with foreigner-related cases."

Shanghai municipal officials are aiming to remove LPG-powered mopeds and scooters from the roads by the end of this year as part of a campaign to clean up emissions pollution.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend