If you've ever been to the big cities of China you know what a problem pollution is. I remember being in Shanghai and returning to my hotel at the end of a day of filming outside with my clothes feeling sooty and my face in need of a scrub. I would sit in the steam room to clear my lungs each night before going to bed. And I was just a visitor; imagine what it's like to live in Shanghai or Beijing and you can understand why people wear surgical face masks. So it makes absolute sense that China has banned the use of traditionally powered scooters and motorcycles in urban centers in a bid to clear the air.
As a result, China now has more than 130-million "e-bikes" (scooters, bicycles and motorcycles), according to UltimateMotorCycling.
Images from the Haoren Electric Scooter Company in China. The green Elektro Roller looks a little familiar!
Not only are electric scooters decreasing air pollution but sound pollution as well, judging from this youtube video of a ride through Beijing on a quiet day - although the lack of sound always makes me worry about safety,(another story for another day).
We can expect that in such a big market as China the technology of electric bikes will only get better and better and that technology will start to spread around the world. If e-scooters become efficient enough through Chinese innovation to supplant gas-powered scooters in city centers, this could be good news for the environment in other countries.
Here's a review of an exported Chinese electric scooter:
Speaking of Chinese innovation, check out this you-tube video of a guy who turned a suitcase into a scooter.
Okay that video's not really part of this story. But the point is that as China rethinks scooters so may we all. I've never been a fan of e-scooters but there's an e-scooter rental place right around the corner from where I live. And when spring arrives I'm going to give one a try. I still can't see myself on one permanently, not until the distance that can be traveled and the speed of travel both improve. But maybe that will happen sooner than I think.
Final word: there may be another way to, at least, be more fuel efficient. Yamaha is introducing a 125cc scooter in Indonesia that it claims reduces gas consumption by 50 per cent with Blue Core engine technology. Check it out:
The Mio125 (photo from AutoCar Professional)