Motorcycles Set to Take Over Tehran, Worsen Air Pollution
EghtesadOnline: Dilapidated motorcycles plying the streets of Tehran will observe a 56% jump by 2023 and exceed 2.4 million, deputy director of Tehran Air Quality Control Company says.
Hossein Shahidzadeh also told YJC that by the end of the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019), of the total 4 million motorcycles in the capital, 1.7 million were decrepit and substandard, contributing to the worsening air pollution.
Shahidzadeh referred to the results of earlier studies and said motorcycles are responsible for about 16% of air pollution in Tehran, especially in the central districts.
“On average, each carbureted motorbike produces five to six times more pollution than a vehicle with Euro 2 standards. This is while each motorcycle is used ten times more than an average car,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Every one million motorcycles generate 286 tons of carbon monoxide, 100 tons of sulfur dioxide and 7 tons of nitrogen dioxide every day, making the bad air pollution conditions much worse.
No Way Out
While there are growing concerns over the increasing number of polluting motorcycles, the bad news is there is almost no way to replace the smog-inducing two-wheelers with new motorcycles.
In February, the Department of Environment announced that a bill calling for the scrappage of dilapidated motorcycles was shelved by the government.
The bill required motorcycle companies to phase out one old two-wheeler for each new gasoline-powered motorbike they sell.
Although the bill was ratified by the parliament last September, local motorcycle producers, in cahoots with the Industries Ministry, forwarded a request to the legislature, requesting it withdraw the bill. The bill’s implementation was postponed at least for a year.
Experts have called for enforcing more stringent measures for issuing technical inspection licenses, modifying standards of motorcycle production and paying more attention to electric motorbikes.
Focus on Green Transport
Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi says handling more than four million motorcycles is a tough task, especially since most motorcycle drivers breach road traffic laws, besides adding to air pollution.
Motorcyclists and their dangerous driving habits have long endangered the lives of pedestrians and themselves.
"Careless motorists were responsible for 63% of road accidents in the last [fiscal] year," he said.
Inviting residents of Tehran to use clean modes of transportation, Hanachi said municipal bodies and related administrations should encourage the public to switch to public transport and use electric motorcycles and bikes.
Hanachi noted that the volatile motorbike market and soaring prices of motorcycles are a big impediment in the way of boosting production and promoting the use of electric motorbikes.
“However, work is underway to offer cheap loans to those willing to purchase electric motorcycles and support local producers of zero-emission two-wheelers," he added.
Tehran’s mayor also said the other challenge facing electric motorbike producers is the poor availability of lithium batteries.
TM is currently negotiating with private sector companies to tackle the issue either by establishing cheap battery recharge stations or battery exchange centers, where drivers will be able to hand out their empty batteries and receive fully-charged ones at a cheap price.
Developing clean transportation systems and non-motorized modes of commutation have been prioritized by TM since Hanachi took office in November 2018.
In a related initiative to promote biking as a cleaner mode of transportation, Tehran Municipality has implemented several measures that have been welcomed by the people.
The move to promote biking in Iran’s major cities was launched about two years ago. To encourage bicycles as a mode of transportation in Tehran, Mashhad and Yazd, a project was launched to set up bike-lending centers and provide bicycles in educational centers and travel zones.
In Tehran, 50 terminals were set up across the city, mostly in crowded downtown areas and near subway stations and tourist sites, to offer a total of 7,000 gearless bicycles. The terminals are still situated at several main city squares, including Tohid, Enqelab and Azadi.
In addition, TM launched four bike lanes in the capital's districts 6 and 7, along Taleqani, Karimkhan, Iranshahr and Mofatteh streets in the center of the city.
Earlier in March, Tehran Municipality said it will invest 170 billion rials ($1.2 million) to develop biking facilities.
The fund will be spent on promoting biking, establishing new bicycle lanes and renovating the existing lanes.