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Posted : 2008-09-25 17:52
Updated : 2008-09-25 17:52

Seoul Declares War Against Bikers


A motorbike rider waits for a traffic signal on the road. Seoul city will seek to punish riders using sidewalks and parking illegally. / Courtesy of Seoul City

City to Slap Fine on Rule-Breaking Motorbike Riders

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced Thursday that it was launching a crackdown on ``reckless rule-breaking motorbike riders'' that drive on sidewalks to protect pedestrians from dangerous situations. However, fast-service deliverymen, who are the majority of the offenders, said it would be hard for the city to win a ``war'' against them.

``With the increase in the number of motorbikes, we understand the inconvenience that citizens feel as well as the risk (of accidents),'' a city official said at a press briefing. ``We will not tolerate bike riders who break the law.''

SMG will seek to punish riders using sidewalks, parking illegally and using bus-only lanes and will propose the revision of related laws so as to allow the imposition of fines by government officials, he said.

Under the current law, police are authorized to impose a 30,000 won fine on bike riders for violating traffic laws, while the officials can only collect evidence and submit it to them.

About 400,000 motorbikes are registered with municipal ward offices in Seoul, but the actual number in operation is likely to be twice as many, the city official said.

Taking advantage of loopholes in traffic regulations and loose enforcement, motorbike riders recklessly use roads and sidewalks, as various delivery services have boomed.

Motorbikes have become the most popular form of delivery service here, largely favored by Chinese restaurants, pizza chains and express logistics service companies.

Service owners said the crackdown will not work.

``Quickness is what we are for,'' the head of an express delivery service company said. ``We know it's illegal but when the road is jammed with cars, we don't have any choice but to hit sidewalks to go fast.''

He also said he does not take the crackdown seriously, saying, ``There have been warnings of massive crackdowns but they never last long. Technically, it is impossible to regulate all the bikes in the city for a long period of time.''

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