Police chiefs in Shanghai have put the brakes on motorcycles using major roads in a traffic order which took effect Tuesday.
The ban will affect 789,000 motorcycles in the city, including 149,000 that are being used without licenses. Police revealed riders will be forbidden on some roads within the Inner Ring Road, three areas in Pudong New Area, and some areas bordering neighboring provinces.
They stressed the measure would meet the requirements stated in the city's urban transportation white paper issued last month.
The paper highlighted the development of public transport as a major solution to Shanghai's future traffic needs.
It stated that motorcycles should be banned from major roads in the city center, and the overall number using roads in the financial hub should be reduced over several years.
The move was similar to Beijing's restrictions on the running and administration of motorcycles. As early as 1984, the police stopped issuing new licensees to motorcycle drivers, said an official with the Beijing Public Security Bureau of Traffic Administration.
In 2000, the bureau adopted a new regulation that forbade motor tricycles with licensees from running on roads in the downtown area and the eight nearby suburb districts.
Zhu Yinglei, deputy director of Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said: "The ban on motorcycles is designed to achieve a higher efficiency of the city's transport network in line with the white paper."
Motorcycles form 55 percent of the total number of vehicles in the city.
But research has found that motorcycles shoulder just 2.1 percent of the total daily transportation load.
The rise in the number of the motorcycles is also posing a headache to civic leaders. In 1997, only 40,000 were in use in the city.
"The surge in the number the motorcycles over the past five years has posed a threat to the city's traffic," Zhu said.
Last year, motorcycles caused 2,265 traffic accidents, accounting for 5.38 percent the total accidents in the city. A total of 237 people died in accidents caused by motorcycles, around 15.77 percent of the death toll on roads.
"Robbers on motorcycles also attacked pedestrians and other cyclists from time to time," Zhu added.
To achieve the goal of reducing the number of motorcycles in use, police said some cyclists may be allowed to change their motorcycle plates into private car plates free of charge.
"But considering different people's purchasing power, the exchange of plates is still under discussion," Zhu added.
(China Daily July 31, 2002)