Unlike many European countries, India is not a bicycle-friendly country. In the pre-pandemic world, many cities did not allow cycling on the main road. Many cities do not have a dedicated lane for cycling or a separate parking space. But things have been forced to change in the post-pandemic world.
But is it still safe to ride an electric cycle in India?
Let’s find out.
What are the rules for Electric Cycles in India?
Many of you may be wondering this before buying an electric cycle as to what are the Indian road regulations for an e-cycle.
Well, the good news is that there isn’t so much to worry about. The Indian road regulations do not have any strict rules for the cyclists but only have a few for the manufacturer. Here are some of them:
- The manufacturer of the electric cycle has to get approval from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI)
- The ARAI states that the EV which has a motor with a power less than 250W and runs less than 25 km/hr does not fall under the laws of a motor vehicle and is thus exempted
- EVs which do have a more powerful motor and runs at a higher speed need to have a license to be road legal
- Electric cycles in India basically do not have to follow any rules and regulations of the road but the local authorities can impose laws to restrict its movement on some roads as a safety precaution
But as it says, precaution is better than cure. So, I would recommend you follow the basic rules and regulations on the road to avoid any mishap for your own safety.
What changed in the Post-Pandemic World for the Electric Cycles?
As India is a developing country with a large share of low income or daily wage-earning communities, staying at home is not at all feasible for them. In the first wave, millions of workers had to cycle long distances to return to their homes due to lack of transportation and work.
As the restrictions were lifted, people preferred cycling to work as public transportation was still not allowed to run at full capacity.
Middle-incomed people were also bearing the brunt due to high fuel prices and restrictions on public transportations.
The transition to new technology has always been doubtful and expensive at first but it can be the last piece to solve the current puzzle. The electric cycles have had a huge boost in the Indian market as many people like me wanted to commute daily with it.
The pandemic has also forced the authorities to lift the existing restrictions on the movement of cycles in restricted areas as there were very few vehicles on the road.
During this time the sale of cycles increased 5 times than average. There was a cycling boom in India. The sales of electric cycles were also on an all-time high as people who could not afford a personal vehicle were opting for it and it is definitely worth the price.
Related Article: Is Buying an Electric Bicycle Worth it?
Is Electric Cycle Suitable for Indian Roads?
It is not easy to cycle on Indian roads, especially during the monsoon season. But, if precautions are taken then you will be fine. I would like to share some of my experiences and how it can help you with your ride.
Potholes- This is one of the major reasons for bike and cycle accidents in India. When I started to commute to the office daily with my electric cycle at first I was not concerned as much. But I was wronged very fast.
While travelling by bus or car you will not notice the small bumps or potholes, as it is absorbed by the suspensions. But in the case of electric cycles, suspensions aren’t that good. The only thing you can do is to stand up while cycling to absorb the shock. If you are not confident to do that, then it will be a very bumpy ride and it might hurt your buttocks and your hips.
So, the best thing is to simply look out for the potholes while cycling. This won’t be an easy task at first but after a few days, you will remember the placement of the potholes. This sounds difficult but trust me, after hitting the same potholes multiple times you will surely remember it.
Cycling during the Monsoon- Cycling in the monsoon is indeed very tricky no matter where you are. But in the case of an electric cycle, you should be careful not to submerge it up to the charging point. It is better to avoid a waterlogged road as a safety precaution.
Nighttime cycling- Roads in India are tough at night, the time where most accidents occur. The majority of the time it may be due to pure neglect. These mishaps can be avoided if precautions are taken correctly.
- Wearing reflector jackets
- Using reflector stickers were ever necessary
- Using a bright headlight and taillight
- Using a loud horn. I would recommend you to use a battery-powered horn on the road as it is much louder than a bell
Pedestrians- If you live in India, you will know that every street is a crowded street and will be almost full of pedestrians. It only becomes a problem when these pedestrians start to walk or cross the road flouting rules. I have faced several instances where the pedestrians sudden came in front of my cycle. If you accidentally hit them then chances are you will be held at fault.
To avoid such chaos, one has to keep a few things in mind while choosing and riding an electric cycle
- One of the main things is to choose an electric cycle that has disc brakes both on the front and rear wheel. The hydraulic brakes will be the best option if available.
- Again a good horn is recommended here
- A GroPro or any relevant recording camera might be useful if required as evidence. This option might not be for everyone or only for the enthusiast but can be used for your own safety.
Traffic Rules- As you know that there aren’t any such traffic rules for an electric cycle so you may not need to follow any and will not be penalized. But it will not hurt either if you go by the rules. Electric cycles are becoming one of the major causes of accidents all across the globe and are ever so increasing.
Electric cycle accidents are caused mainly due to collisions with other vehicles simply because the person driving might not see you in front of them.
I have been in an accident and was hit by a car as I was cycling in the opposite lane. Things could have been fatal for me. So, I would request you to follow every traffic signal on the road to be safe.
Related Article: Electric Bicycle vs Electric Scooter
Is there any charging station for the Electric cycle in India?
Unfortunately, India does not have any dedicated charging station for electric cycles and has a long way to go to have a good and reliable network. Though there isn’t any fast charging option for electric cycles currently available in India, on average it takes up to 4 hrs to fully charge the battery.
Is there any E-Cycling Community in India?
Yes, there are many cycling groups in India many connected through Facebook, here are some of their links:
Join all the groups if you want to share or have any questions related to the electric cycle.
Thanks for reading! Hope that it has helped you in some way.