AS PER THE SUGGESTION OF THE GROUP OF STATE TRANSPORT MINISTERS, E-BIKE RIDERS WILL NOW HAVE TO FOLLOW COMMON MOTOR VEHICLE RULES SOON LIKE CONVENTIONAL TWO-WHEELER RIDERS.
The leeway given to e-bike riders in the Motor Vehicle act is going to be history soon. The group of state transport ministers set up by the road transport ministry has suggested a change in the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act recommending that all powered vehicles, including both electric and mechanical, would be brought under the term "vehicle." With this, all the rules of the mechanically-powered two-wheelers, such as insurance, wearing a helmet, and mandatory driving licence, will be applicable on electric-powered bikes as well. Moreover, the violation of rules will attract penalties as well.
Currently, people can ride e-scooters or e-bikes with power less than 250 watt and maximum speed less than 25kmph in India without any licence or other things which are mandatory for gasoline-powered vehicles. They don't even need to use a helmet while riding these bikes, which is a primary and essential safety gear on normal two-wheelers. As a licence is not required, most of the e-bike riders in the country are under-aged school going children who aren’t well-versed with traffic ethics. So, we can say that it will be a good initiative in terms of safety on the roads.
On the other hand, this new rule can affect sales of electric powered two-wheelers, which are already doing not so well in the market. Increased use of electric vehicles can significantly reduce the pollution level generated from vehicle emissions, and improve the environmental conditions of metro cities. So, some would be thinking that the government should work on increasing the use of such vehicles in the major metros instead of making such new rules. However, the truth is that most of the e-bike users are those who are not eligible to ride mechanically-powered ones, and implementation of this rule is necessary from a safety aspect.
An official from a state government, who was present in the recent meeting of GoM (the group of ministers), said, "This will bring greater discipline on roads. Police don't take action against juvenile drivers or the vehicle owner, if they are caught driving e-bikes and that's because of the gaps in our laws. The e-bike manufacturers have also been exploiting these loopholes."
The GoM has also suggested to the states to incorporate penal provisions in the Police Act and traffic rules and regulations for the effective enforcement of traffic discipline. "Central government may also examine whether rights and duties of pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised traffic can be incorporated in the National Highway Act," said an official.