Beijing's city government has banned e-bikes from 10 of the city's major inner-city roads as concerns over traffic congestion and collisions grow.
The Chinese capital is currently home to four million e-bikes, though it is not the volume of e-bikes that is raising concerns in the city.
E-bikes were involved in 31,404 accidents last year, which resulted in 113 deaths and 21,423 injuries. These incidents accounted for 37% of all traffic accident injuries, though many critics of the government's plans have suggested that e-bikes and their riders are not the primary cause for these high numbers.
Chinese road infrastructure has very clear rules for bicycles, pedestrians and motorised vehicular traffic. The three-lane system, which sees the road users seperated into three lanes for safety's sake, became standard decades ago - before the e-bike boom swept through China.
Today, e-bikes are ubiquotus in Chinese cities, and its their lack of clear categorisation within the vehicular heiirachy that appears to be causing the problem.
Sustainable Transport Project Director Liu Zong told news site China Dialogue that it's not the bikes or the riders that are the problem. He suggests that changiing the categorisation of e-bikes could have "safety... and envirnomental benefits."
He said: "Electric bicycles should be categorised according to maximum speed, with driving licences needed to ride faster categories; better allocation of priority on the roads; and strict enforcement of traffic rules.
"That way, safety could be improved and the environmental benefits of e-bikes retained in cities that have increasingly tough targets on cutting pollution and carbon."
It is the threat to those pollution targets that worries those Beijing residents who oppose the e-bike ban, specifically the anticipated rise in car sales should the plan to ban e-bikes become a reality.
State council advisor Chou Baoxing told Chinese news magazine Caijing that the people of Beijing will have no choice in the matter should the ban be enforced.
“If we do away with [e-bikes] people will have no option but to buy cars, which are larger and polluting," Baoxing said. "The car manufacturers would likely benefit, and traffic police will deal with fewer offences, but the city’s environment will suffer, with poorer air quality and increased congestion."