E-rickshaws in Bengaluru: To ply or not to ply

What the Transport Department is proposing, traffic experts and traffic police seem to be opposing

Published - December 18, 2017 12:20 am IST - Bengaluru

The Transport Department is making a second bid to push for e-rickshaws to ply on the city roads, a proposal that the traffic police had earlier rejected.

Though e-rickshaws are allowed in other parts of the State, it is still not allowed in Bengaluru. However, the city does have permission to operate e-autorickshaws.

B. Dayananda, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety, told The Hindu that the earlier proposal to introduce e-rickshaws fell through, as e-rickshaws are smaller than e-autorickshaws with a maximum speed of 25 kmph. The traffic police said that these vehicles would cause congestion and slow down vehicular movement.

“A few companies have approached the department seeking permission. Both the State and Union government policies want to encourage more electric vehicles. So we have sought the opinion from the traffic police and the other stakeholders, including Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation etc. A decision on introducing them on the city’s roads can be taken only if all the stakeholders give us a go ahead,” he said. While e-rickshaws with a speed limit of 25 kmph accommodate four persons apart from the driver, e-autorickshaws accommodate three persons apart from the driver and have a speed limit of upto 70 kmph.

However, this time too e-rickshaws are facing a stiff opposition from traffic managers in the city, mainly on account of the low speed limit.

Traffic expert M.N. Sreehari, is of the opinion that these e-rickshaws should not be allowed on the city roads.

“While it is true that the e-rickshaws are environment friendly, as they do not cause either air pollution or noise pollution, since the speed of these vehicles is less, it can lead to accidents and cause traffic jams,” he said. He added that nearly 60% of the city roads are narrow and 13 different types of vehicles move on our roads.

“A study has also shown that the average speed in the city has also seen a drastic reduction over the past few years. When this is the case, introducing a slow moving vehicle on the roads will prove to be a mistake,” he added.

Meanwhile, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) R. Hithendra claimed that the traffic police had not received any communication from the department with regard to introduction of e-rickshaws over the past 45 days.

Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh, working in e-vehicle sector as well, said that as per present policy, e-rickshaws can be driven around without a licence or registration, as all vehicles with maximum speed limit of 25 kmph are considered non-motorised modes and need no registration.

However, he added that the rule need to tweaked for an e-rickshaw since they also ferry passengers and transport department must insist on registration and driving licence.

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