Subject: transport, electric mobility devices, road safety, e-scooters

Regulation of electric mobility devices in Hong Kong

  • Social benefits and risks of EMD: Innovative EMD could bring benefits to society, as point-to-point travel enhances accessibility of individuals (especially those with walking difficulties). Proliferation of EMD also helps relieve the demand for private cars and public transport in short-distance commuting, resulting in environmental benefits in terms of reduced pollutant emissions. Yet EMD could also become dangerous devices to road users. Taking e-scooter travelling at a speed of 20 km/h as an illustration, it could generate two tonnes of force when user's head hits the ground. Also, a relatively long braking distance (i.e. 1.7-3.2 meters) for e-scooter travelling at such pace could easily knock an adult into the air when collision occurs.7Legend symbol denoting Channel News Asia (2019b). Coupled with product risks emanating from substandard batteries or parts, the apparently harmless EMD could turn out to be lethal devices. As such, more governments have tightened regulations over EMD as public commuting devices, though they try not to go too far to stifle technological innovation.8Legend symbol denoting Castro (2019) and Huddleston (2018).
  • Local developments of EMD: Similar to other cities in the world, EMD has gained in popularity in Hong Kong, with their retained imports reaching 1.16 million units in 2018.9Legend symbol denoting Retained imports were derived by subtracting the quantities of re-exports from imports. It covers majority of EMD such as hoverboards, e-scooters and motorcycles with electric motor propulsion. See Census and Statistics Department (2019). While most of EMD are seemingly used for recreational usage at present, it is not uncommon to see their applications as commuting devices on pavements or bicycle lanes. Although TD has not compiled statistics on EMD-related accidents, such mishaps could occur occasionally, as manifested in the deaths of two e-scooter users in the last quarter of 2019.
  • Illegal commuting on roads and pavements: TD comes to the view that EMD "are not suitable" for use on local roads and pavements, as they are too narrow and congested.10Legend symbol denoting GovHK (2015b). As such, no EMD has ever been registered and licensed for commuting under RTO. Although illegal usage of EMD for public commuting is liable to prosecution, the Police began to compile such enforcement statistics only in July 2019. As at mid-November 2019, only one enforcement action has been taken against illegal usage of EMD.
  • Recreational usage and commuting in private properties only: Against this backdrop, EMD purchased in the local market can only be used in "individual private properties, recreational or sports venues or other non-public places", provided that the users comply with the rules of venues.
  • Issues of concern: The community has nevertheless raised a number of concerns over application of EMD in short-distance commuting in recent years. First and foremost, illegal public riding of EMD is not uncommon in Hong Kong and this could pose potential risks to all road users.11Legend symbol denoting 東方日報(2018)。 Yet it is difficult for the Police and TD to take enforcement action without proper labelling or registration of such devices. Secondly, there is no third-party insurance coverage for victims involved in traffic accidents caused by the illegal usage of EMD. Thirdly, EMD on sale in the market is not subject to any product safety regulation. For instance, an e-scooter purchased from the Mainland was on fire in November 2015 due to short-circuiting during charging.12Legend symbol denoting South China Morning Post (2015). Fourthly, there are suggestions that the existing legislation (i.e. RTO) is disproportionately stringent towards EMD, with inadequate consideration of their innovative features and contribution to society.13Legend symbol denoting 蘋果日報(2018) and 李煥明(2018). TD responded in January 2019 that it was reviewing the suitability of using EMD for short-distance commuting in Hong Kong in the aforementioned consultancy study scheduled for completion by mid-2020.

Regulation of electric mobility devices in Singapore

Prepared by Sunny LAM
Research Office
Information Services Division
Legislative Council Secretariat
30 December 2019


1.While EMD cover a wide range of electricity-driven commuting devices, this issue of Essentials focuses on e-scooters and e-bicycles which form the majority of EMD fleet and are being increasingly adopted for commuting. While e-wheelchairs are classified as "medical devices" and permitted for use in Hong Kong, it will not be discussed in detail.

2.On 26 October 2019, an e-scooter user crashed into a bicycle on cycling track in Tseung Kwan O and passed away a few days later. More recently on 2 December 2019, another e-scooter user lost control on a cycling track in Tai Po and died. See 明報(2019).

3.Over the past five years, three Council Questions on electric mobility devices were raised at the Council meetings of 6 May 2015, 9 December 2015 and 30 January 2019 respectively, while Members discussed "exploring the legalization of motor-driven bicycles" in a Members' motion held at the Council meeting of 14 June 2017. See GovHK (2015a, 2015b and 2019).

4.GovHK (2015b).

5.The Government indicates that it will consider whether to introduce regulatory scheme and trial scheme for EMD, taking into account the study findings.

6.In May 2019, e-scooters are permitted for use on roads and bicycle lanes in Germany, subject to a maximum speed of 20 km/h. In October 2019, the French government introduced rules to cap the speed of e-scooter at 25 km/h and ban its usage on pavements.

7.Channel News Asia (2019b).

8.Castro (2019) and Huddleston (2018).

9.Retained imports were derived by subtracting the quantities of re-exports from imports. It covers majority of EMD such as hoverboards, e-scooters and motorcycles with electric motor propulsion. See Census and Statistics Department (2019).

10.GovHK (2015b).


12.South China Morning Post (2015).

13.蘋果日報(2018) and 李煥明(2018).

14.Definition of EMD in Singapore is slightly different from that in Hong Kong. For instance, EMD in Singapore also covers motorised wheelchairs.

15.Department of Statistics (2019) and South China Morning Post (2019).

16.In Singapore, public paths refer to pedestrian-only paths, footpaths and shared paths (e.g. cycling paths and park connectors). See Active Mobility Advisory Panel (2018).

17.Singapore Civil Defence Force (2019).

18.Besides, 46% of Singaporean respondents were open to the suggestion of sharing footpaths with EMD. See Active Mobility Advisory Panel (2016).

19.For instance, an unregistered and non-compliant e-scooter collided with a 65 years old bicycle user in September 2019, causing the death of the elderly cyclist.

20.E-bicycle should also be registered in Singapore by February 2018, while other EMD without handlebar such as hoverboards and e-unicycles are not subject to registration.

21.E-bicycle should also comply with another Standard namely EN15194 for electric power assisted cycles.

22.As at mid-November 2019, the Singaporean government received over 14 000 applications in total, accounting for 18% of unqualified e-scooters locally.

23.Those aged below 16 can continue to use EMD on public paths under adult supervision. See Ministry of Transport (2019).

24.In the 2016 consultation, the public showed strong opposition against compulsory insurance for individuals because the premium (ranging from S$65-96 or HK$370-550 annually) would impose additional cost burden on EMD adoption. See Active Mobility Advisory Panel (2016) and Channel News Asia (2019a).

25.So far, all EMD-related fire incidents have involved non-certified devices. Retailers breaching the rule are liable to a fine of up to S$5,000 (HK$28,650) and a jail term of up to three months.

26.TODAY (2019).


Hong Kong

1.Census and Statistics Department. (2019) Interactive Data Dissemination Service for Trade Statistics.

2.GovHK. (2015a) LCQ14: Regulation of electric unicycles.

3.GovHK. (2015b) LCQ19: Mobility devices.

4.GovHK. (2019) LCQ13: Electric mobility devices.

5.South China Morning Post. (2015) 'Hoverboard' electric scooter starts fire in Hong Kong flat.


7.《男子騎電動滑板車自炒亡 個多月內第二宗》,《明報》,2019年12月2日。

8.《電動滑板車 香港合法等下世?》,《蘋果日報》,2018年5月9日。



10.Active Mobility Advisory Panel. (2016) Recommendations on rules and code of conduct for cycling and the use of personal mobility devices.

11.Active Mobility Advisory Panel. (2018) Review of active mobility regulations for safer path sharing.

12.Active Mobility Advisory Panel. (2019) Review of active mobility regulations for safer path sharing.

13.Channel News Asia. (2019a) Slow ride for PMD insurance: Insurers say interest picking up, but riders point out gaps.

14.Channel News Asia. (2019b) Why being hit by an e-scooter can be deadly - and a call to ban them from footpaths.

15.Department of Statistics. (2019) Report on the Household Expenditure Survey 2017/18.

16.Land Transport Authority. (2019) E-Scooters to Be Prohibited on All Footpaths Following Safety Review.

17.Ministry of Transport. (2019) Government Accepts All Recommendations from the Active Mobility Advisory Panel.

18.Singapore Civil Defence Force. (2019) Fire Statistics for 2018 & Case Studies.

19.South China Morning Post. (2019) Electric scooters, unicycles, hoverboards…why can't Singaporeans just walk?.

20.TODAY. (2019) 'Zero' or slow sales of PMDs since e-scooter ban on footpaths, say several retailers.


21.Castro. (2019) E-Scooter Bans Show Cities Are Hesitant to Embrace Innovation.

22.Huddleston. (2018) Will the electric scooter movement lose its charge? It doesn't have to.

Essentials are compiled for Members and Committees of the Legislative Council. They are not legal or other professional advice and shall not be relied on as such. Essentials are subject to copyright owned by The Legislative Council Commission (The Commission). The Commission permits accurate reproduction of Essentials for non-commercial use in a manner not adversely affecting the Legislative Council, provided that acknowledgement is made stating the Research Office of the Legislative Council Secretariat as the source and one copy of the reproduction is sent to the Legislative Council Library. The paper number of this issue of Essentials is ISE05/19-20.