You might be accustomed to the scene where trendily dressed young people roar past you, effortlessly pick up the small two-wheeled thing from under their feet, and quickly disappear into the crowd at the subway entrance. Now it will be a rare scene to see in Beijing, because those cool guys will probably be fined.
According to new regulations by the Chinese authorities, a RMB 10 (USD 1.4) traffic ticket will be given to those who ride Segway-like self-balancing vehicles or electric scooters in the motor and non-motor lanes in Beijing.
Such electric vehicles are up to neither the standards for motor vehicles nor the non-motor ones. So these vehicles have no right of way and should be kept off the roads for the public traffic. They can still be used in closed spaces including housing estates and stadiums, according to the traffic department of Beijing.
The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle launched by American company Segway in 2001. According to a report by Tencent Tech on Wednesday, the Segway PT became known for the first time in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when it was used by the security guards.
Segway-like vehicles have been spreading like a pandemic in China since around 2012. They are favored by more and more office workers because of their portability and speed. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi-backed company acquired Segway in 2015 to better feed the China market.
According to the Tencent Tech report, Americans bought in 4.5 million self-balancing vehicles from China in 2015, 2.5 million of which were sold within that year.
However, accompanying the popularity is increasing doubt of the vehicle’s’ safety, especially in the crowded urban environments of mega-metropolises like Beijing.
In July 2015, an e-scooter rider in Shanghai knocked into a pedestrian and killed him. There have been numerous reports of the traffic accidents related to such vehicles in China. Many Chinese cities including Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan have banned such vehicles from the streets.
Maybe we had better keep our feet on the ground after all.
(Top photo from Phczx.com)