Following is a question by the Hon Ip Kwok-him and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport, Mr Nicholas Ng, in the Legislative Council today (December 5):
Question: At present, persons using electric skateboards and electric bikes on roads are required to possess valid driving licences for "motor cycle and motor tricycle" and the owners concerned have to obtain the relevant registration licences. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the rationale and criteria for imposing the above requirements;
(b) whether members of the public are required to possess valid driving licences for using electric skateboards and electric bikes in parks as well as on cycle tracks, private roads and footpaths and to display the relevant registration licences; if so, whether the Administration will consider exempting the use of electric skateboards and electric bikes below certain horsepower in such places from the above requirements since they move at a slow speed and are unlikely to cause serious injuries to other people in accidents; if no exemption will be given, of the reasons for that; and
(c) given that all the electric skateboards and electric bikes currently on sale in the market do not meet the statutory requirements and therefore have not been licensed, whether the Administration will issue licensing guidelines setting out in detail the construction specifications on electric skateboards and electric bikes for reference by manufacturers and importers?
Under Section 22 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (RTO) (Cap. 374), every vehicle of a class specified in the RTO which is used on any road shall be licensed. Whether a vehicle will be registered and licensed depends on whether it can meet the requirements such as horsepower, lighting, braking and warning devices specified under the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (C&M Regulations) and whether it can pass the vehicle examination relating to the specified class of vehicle. Under Section 42 of the RTO, it will also be necessary for a person to obtain the relevant driving licence to drive a motor vehicle on the road. In addition, it is necessary to have insurance cover for third party risk in using a motor vehicle on roads.
Electric-driven skateboard or electric bike is a type of mechanically propelled motor cycles and is subject to the licensing control of the RTO. However, any motor cycles including electric-driven skateboard or electric bike, which fail to meet the C&M Regulations or pass the relevant vehicle examination will be refused registration.
Road is defined under the RTO to include every highway, thoroughfare, street, alley, court, square, carpark, passage, path, way and place that are accessible by the public. It is a breach of the RTO for anyone to operate an unlicensed vehicle on roads including private roads. One of the reasons that electric skateboards or electric bikes cannot be licensed is that they do not meet the minimum horsepower required under the C&M Regulations for use on roads. These vehicles are too slow to be used on roads and can endanger other road users. On the other hand, they are too fast for use on cycle tracks and can cause risks to cyclists. Given the prevailing road conditions in Hong Kong, it is not advisable on road safety grounds to waive any requirements under the C&M Regulations in order to license electric skateboards or electric bikes for use on the roads.
The Transport Department has issued letters to all major shops and operators selling electric-driven skateboards and electric motor scooters in May last year, advising them of the registration and licensing requirements and the need for compliance with the C&M Regulations before these vehicles can be put to use on the roads. The Department will step up the publicity of such requirements for reference by the manufacturers and importers.
End/Wednesday, December 5, 2001