With new amendments, electric bikes to be registered

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By Sharda Bacchus

shardabacchus@newsroom.gy

Users of electric cycles (E-bikes) are now obligated to follow the same rules as motorcyclists when using the roadways and are required to have the relevant documents, among them a valid registration.

This came into being following the passage of amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday night.

The bill was piloted by Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn, who said the “very simple” amendment is required given the “rapid” increase in the use of electric cycles on the roadways which has caused a “phenomenon” over the past three years.

In fact, Benn highlighted that in 2022 there were seven electric cycle-related fatalities and a “few” this year. In some instances, persons were also injured.

“Indeed we are now at the beginning of the wave in respect of the use of e-vehicles on the road and particularly in Guyana. The entrance is represented by electric motorcycles,” Benn said.

As such, the minister pointed out the need to fill the gap in the law.

“The question as to whether a motor, as stated in the law, refers only to a gasoline or a diesel or a gas-powered motor that it is now an electric motor and we want to have that clearly defined by this amendment in the laws,” he said.

According to the explanatory memorandum, the purpose of the Bill is to amend Section 2 to regulate the use of electric cycles

Clause 2 of the Bill amends Section 2 of the principal act by inserting into the Act a definition of “electric cycle”.

An electric cycle is defined to be any motorcycle that has an electric motor and is fitted with an effective stopping system controlled by the use of brakes, gears, or motor control.

As an electric cycle is defined to be a motorcycle, all the specifications of a motorcycle, as set out in the Act, will also be applicable to an electric cycle.

Additionally, the definition of “motor vehicle” is amended by expanding this definition to include “electric cycle.”

Collectively, the two amendments will bring electric cycles under the same legislative regime as motorcycles.

This means that provisions of the Principal Act, and any subsidiary legislation made under that Act governing the registration and use of motorcycles, will now be applicable to electric cycles.

“Mr. Speaker, we do indeed have ongoing challenges requiring immediate responses in relation to the situation on our roads,” Benn told the House.

As a matter of fact, Benn said the intention of the amendment is to provide clarity and safety in terms of the language of the law in the event the use of the word “motor” is challenged.

At present, Benn said statistics show that speeding is still the prime cause of fatal accidents, adding that the peak period remains 18:00h to 06:00h, owing to inattentiveness and driving under the influence.

And to address this, he said further amendments may have to be made to the entire Act.

“We continue to be concerned about the fact that the motorcyclists, too many of them present the largest number of fatalities on the roads and is related not simply to speeding and poor usage of the roads, but the lack of the use of helmets,” Benn said.

 “We are just now going out again, in support of the Guyana Police Force to increase the presence, the resorts, the sanctions and to undertake those sanctions which are already in the laws in respect of improving safety on our roads,” he noted.

Just a few months ago, the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Bill was amended to allow for drunk drivers to face increased jail time, permanent revocation of their driver’s license, “motor manslaughter” and causing grievous bodily harm charges.

The amendments also allow for a person’s license to be temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the case and an increase in fines for breach of traffic regulations.

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