High time careless rental e-bike users are penalised

High time irresponsible rental e-bike users are brought to book

But cops can't take action because there's a catch in the Motor Vehicles Act

People have expressed concerns that some riders of e-bikes jump the signal, enter one-way streets wrongly, ride on the pavement and even obstruct it.

Rental e-bikes have become a source of traffic nuisance in the city yet cops can’t bring the violators to book. 

The problem is, these bikes don’t fall under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and so, the riders need not wear a helmet or own or carry a driving license, the absence of which would otherwise invite penalty. The Act exempts electric two-wheelers with up to 250-watt motor and a max speed of 25km/h from registration.

They are deemed as Non-motorised vehicles (NMW) instead. That’s because they are neither full-blown scooters nor true cycles by design. They are in between. 

Yulu Miracle is the only such ride-sharing, micro-mobility service currently active and popular in Bengaluru.

The demand to book these e-bike users for offences surfaced in Bengaluru last month. In a meeting with police commissioner Kamal Pant, a few
residents of Kormangala pointed that such riders do not wear helmet, they jump the signal, they enter one-way streets wrongly, they ride on the pavement and even obstruct it by parking randomly. Worse, some of them are underage.

People not related to the said meeting have expressed similar concerns.

College student Reyna Paul, who stays along New BEL Road, says, “I have often seen riders leave these e-bikes in random places, even on footpaths. Our footpaths are anyway not wide and on that, the obstruction makes it harder for people to walk. Serious action should be taken against these violators.”

A 20-year-old, who prefers to go by his first name Nischit, points to one more worry. “Many riders perform stunts on these e-bikes. It’s dangerous without a helmet,” he says.

Not everybody is pressing to bring these ubiquitous, blue bikes under the Motor Vehicles Act but they would like to see traffic norms implemented somehow.

Sahakarnagar resident Pooja Kelkar is one of them. “There has to be a way that prevents minors (under 18) from riding these e-bikes,” says the 20-year-old college student, a regular user.

Nitin Sheshadri feels such companies should take the responsibility to control the menace.

“They are the primary service provider. Such a service is useful but we expect them to make stricter policies to ensure riders follow the traffic rules and residents aren’t disturbed,” says the representative of the Resident Welfare Association, Koramangala 3rd block.

Complaints from other cities

According to a news report, the Delhi Traffic Police met the team of the Bengaluru-based company in February this year and asked them to enhance safety measures. They were worried to see minors use these e-bikes without helmets. Since these bikes are short in height, truck and bus drivers may not always spot them, which can increase the risk of accidents, they also feared.  

Another report dated February 2021 had cited concerns over the lack of protective gear on these e-bikers in Mumbai. An official from the Regional Transport Office in Maharashtra was quoted saying they will work to amend the rules surrounding non-motorised vehicles.

Officials speak

After the residents of Koramangala aired their issues against rental e-bikes, top cop Kamal Pant had said the police will talk to concerned departments and officials from Yulu. Metrolife contacted the company multiple times for an update but they remained unavailable for comments. Meanwhile, a traffic official acknowledged these bikes have become a nuisance but there is no provision to penalise the riders. “However, we haven’t received a formal complaint from citizens,” the official pointed out. Hemantha Kumara L, additional commissioner, transport department, and secretary of Karnataka State Transport Authority, said they can’t make any amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, as it is a central legislation. “It (the amendment) has to happen at the Centre.” He went on to inform he has neither received complaints from the police nor citizens in this matter.