Shang­hai bans e-scooters, but steeper fines needed

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Annabel Ea­ton Page Editor: chen­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Maybe more than any­one else, I was pro­foundly re­lieved to read the re­cent news that Shang­hai has launched a new crack­down on scooters. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have at long last is­sued a city­wide di­rec­tive es­tab­lish­ing, for the first time, fines and pun­ish­ments against small-wheel e-scooters and one-wheeled or two-wheeled self-bal­anc­ing per­sonal trans­porters, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports.

Back in Septem­ber, I penned an opin­ion ar­ti­cle for the Global Times ti­tled “Scooters should be banned from Shang­hai side­walks.” I was mostly re­fer­ring to mo­tor-scooters, mopeds and e-bikes as op­posed to the self-bal­anc­ing small-wheel e-scooters that the new cam­paign tar­gets, but I’ll take this for now.

Un­like the mil­lions of mo­tor­ized scooters that are cur­rently plagu­ing the side­walks of Shang­hai (with ex­press de­liv­ery boys be­ing the big­gest and most un­con­scionable cul­prits) putting pedes­tri­ans at risk, small-wheel per­sonal trans­porters are ac­tu­ally ex­tremely dan­ger­ous to the driv­ers them­selves.

If you’ve ever seen some­one zip­ping down a busy street in Shang­hai on one of these small trans­porters, you’ll un­der­stand just how un­safe they are. Cars and buses are un­able to see these low-rid­ing scooters, mak­ing them prone to ac­ci­dents.

Time and again, lo­cal me­dia re­port on in­jures and even deaths in­volv­ing white-col­lar com­muters on their way to or from work while weav­ing through traf­fic on a trans­porter. Even with a hel­met (which most Shang­hai res­i­dents dis­like us­ing), it’s like a two-wheeled death sen­tence. The new reg­u­la­tions are for their own good, be­cause Shang­hai is no longer safe for small-wheel per­sonal trans­porters.

This city now has over 3 mil­lion cars on the roads, and with Shang­hai lead­ing China in the new elec­tric ve­hi­cle mar­ket, even more pri­vate pas­sen­ger cars are pre­dicted in the near fu­ture. Our mu­nic­i­pal­ity is go­ing to be­come one gi­ant day-long traf­fic jam, and while I cer­tainly sym­pa­thize with the need for per­sonal trans­porters, e-scooters are a bad idea in Shang­hai.

As are skate­boards and roller skates, which un­der the new reg­u­la­tions are clas­si­fied as “mo­bil­ity tools” and thus, ac­cord­ing to shine. cn, are also now un­law­ful on all pub­lic streets. I’m sure a lot of lo­cal teenagers and ex­pat hip­sters won’t be happy to hear this, but again, it’s for their own good. If you want to skate, go to a park!

Last but not least, those fun­ny­look­ing en­closed scooters and mi­cro­cars that many se­nior ci­ti­zens in Shang­hai use will also be cracked down upon. It at first may seem heart­less and low-hang­ing-fruit to tar­get old peo­ple, but I know for a fact that many el­derly peo­ple here have been moon­light­ing by us­ing their en­closed mo­bil­ity scooters as black taxis dur­ing rush hours.

You will of­ten see these old-times in their lit­tle cabin-cy­cles speed­ing up and down the same boule­vard ev­ery morn­ing and ev­ery af­ter­noon tak­ing com­muters to mid-dis­tance des­ti­na­tions. It’s not that I’m against the el­derly earn­ing a sup­ple­men­tal in­come, but that they are so darn dan­ger­ous about it – of­ten run­ning red lights and honk­ing their way through pedes­trian cross­ings. They put them­selves and their pas­sen­gers at an ex­treme risk, so I’m glad that po­lice are fi­nally fin­ing them for their trans­gres­sions.

But herein re­mains my big­gest prob­lem with the new cam­paign: why are driv­ing fines in Shang­hai so small? Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia, first-time small-wheel e-scooter of­fend­ers face fines of just 100 yuan ($14) while re­peat of­fend­ers will only be fined 500 yuan. For se­niorci­t­i­zens, their mo­bil­ity mi­cro­cars will be tem­po­rar­ily seized and they will have to pay 200 yuan to 1,500 yuan to re­trieve them. In cases where the ve­hi­cle is iden­ti­fied as mo­tor­ized and the driver has no li­cense, they will be fined 1,500 yuan.

These low fines make no sense. If you re­ally want to stop peo­ple from driv­ing dan­ger­ously, try fin­ing them sev­eral thou­sand yuan, which will re­ally st­ing. To quote my­self in a July opin­ion ar­ti­cle I wrote about this very topic, “steeper fines – which Shang­hai bizarrely lacks de­spite be­ing one of China’s wealth­i­est ci­ties – are the best de­ter­rent.”

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Lu Ting/GT

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