The Yangon Regional Government is considering whether or not to allow e-bikes in some townships in Yangon where YBS buses can’t cover, and where motorcycles are banned.
“Even though e-bikes are not officially allowed in Yangon, people are still using them. It is not dangerous for them as long as they wear a helmet and ride at a moderate speed,’’ said Dr. Maung Aung, Secretary of YRTA.
The reason Yangon’s authorities are considering e-bikes instead of motorcycles is twofold: they don’t use fossil fuels, and their speed is not very fast. Compared to motorcycles, or even public transportation, e-bikes have zero emissions, which is a major consideration for larger cities. Their slower speed also makes them safer for both the rider and pedestrians, and yet, they remain a very good option for commuting in big cities like Yangon.
The regional government is also considering whether or not to allow motorbikes (scooters and motorcycles) in some areas in Yangon. This is because people are riding them despite the ban. The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) and Yangon Transport Authority met on this matter in November last year. However, the authorities have not disclosed which areas will be open for motorbikes.
In spite of the ban on motorbikes, people choose to ride motorbikes to avoid the horrible traffic congestion in Yangon. Being stuck in traffic is even worse in the summer heat and the plague of constant horn blowing by impatient drivers. A 20 minute bicycle ride can take 40 minutes or longer by bus. If you’re using an e-bike you can make the trip even faster. People are willing to choose two-wheeled transportation even in the rainy season, just to avoid traffic jams.
Motorbikes are currently banned in the city of Yangon, and this creates some enforcement challenges. Since it is illegal to drive a motorbike in Yangon, there are no licenses for them, and when an accident occurs involving a motorbike police find it difficult to trace the vehicle.
In the Yangon Region, driving a motorbike is legal in Htauk Kyant, Thalin, Kyauktan, Thone Gwa, Khayan, Twante, Kawk Mhuu, Dala, Seikkyi-Khanaungtoe, Koko Island, Hlegu, Hmawbi, Taikkyi, and Htandabin Townships, which are outside of YCDC’s administration.
Exactly what is meant by e-bike was not immediately clear from the YCDC, but the idea includes most electric transportation. Generally, two-wheeled transportation is categorized as follows.
E-bike: An electric bicycle, with a small size battery pack.
Moped: Mopeds typically travel only a bit faster than bicycles on public roads, and possess both a motorcycle engine (gas or electric) and pedals for propulsion. Gas powered versions are typically 50cc or under. Electric versions have a larger battery than an e-bike. Mopeds also have a platform for the drivers feet.
Scooter: Scooters are larger and faster than a moped, generally range from 50cc-150cc. The motor is often behind or under the driver, and a platform for the feet with step through access. Storage is often found by lifting the seat pad.
Motorcycle: Motorcycles are larger and heavier than a scooter. The driver needs to swing their leg over the seat, there is no platform for feet, it has a larger engine size, a larger fuel tank, and no storage in the seat, and a clutch is normally found on the left handle.
Variations of these types of two-wheeled vehicles are found in Myanmar, and are mostly from China, but other brands from India, and Thailand are also prevalent.