European countries shine a light for UK future regulation of micromobility
February 17, 2022Legal
What the UK can learn from neighbouring European countries:
The United Kingdom is a outlier as to the highly restrictive laws around micromobility. This is broadly a historical reason. With a number of acts including the 1988 transport act that defined what a taxed, insurance form of transport would be.
With pressure from car companies and insurance firms, the legislators were all too happy to make sure the definition of what should be taxed and insurance was almost everything apart from the human powered bicycle. With a maximum electric bike of 250 kWh and a top speed of 15.5 pedal assist with no throttle. The treasury were happy with this because it brought in the most amount of revenue possible.
In Europe, the EU member states started 1 horse power of 750 kWh power and 25 KPH was their equivalent pedal assist.
Broadly, the 27 European member states have a varied approach to electric scooters.
Some see them as means of micro-transportation or personal transport, others define them exclusively in their legislation (in a direct manner). While some have no definition of an electric escooter rather use the bicycle legislation as their definition.
Electric scooters’ users are qualified either as pedestrians using scooters, drivers, or cyclists. The limit of 20–25 km/h of speed is the area of top speed.
In the way bicycle legislation varies so too does the escooters and micromobility. Including use of the pavement, pedestrian zones, and pedestrian crossings access. With some allow it, providing speed limits; others offer only the possibility of accessing bike paths or public roads). Other restriction variations include age limits for electric scooter users when riding on a road or wearing protective equipment
The majority of 27 Member States do not provide any special rules on driving licences or insurance (generally not required when using electric scooters).
There is no doubt the future for micromobility across the whole of the EU. There will be a general direction of harmonisation of micromobility laws.
We look at two EU member states attempts to tackle this piece of legislation.
__IRELAND In Ireland having in Autumn of 2021 creating a 'Personal Transporter Law'. Which provides a catch all term for micromobility.
The Irish Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021 updates existing legislation and create a new class of vehicle called powered 'personal transporters', including e-scooters and electric bikes.
Section of the 1992 Finance Act and will not class powered personal transporters as mechanically propelled vehicles and so avoid the tax trap.
The Irish `legislation defines a powered personal transporter as being not over 55kg, designed for one person with speeds not below 6kph and above 25kph with "an electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power less than or equal to 0.25 kilowatts". Plus it does not have to be a pedal bicycle, pedal tricycle, or designed for people with restricted mobility.
While in Germany, their love of transport and laws meant they were the first to fully envelop Escooters into their legislation.
In 2019 they produced Light Electric Vehicles Regulation with some notable advances from the basis of 750 kWh and 25kmh which ebikes were limited too. Notable the larger kWh.
With a continuous rated power of no more than 500 watts, or no more than 1400 watts if at least 60% of the power is used for self-balancing;
The legislation goes onto to further define these new vehicles as:
The Light Electric Vehicles Regulation defines light electric vehicles as “motor vehicles with electric drive and a top speed of no less than 6 kmh (3.7 mph) and no more than 20 kmh (15.5 mph) that meet the following criteria:
- a vehicle without seats or a self-balancing vehicle with or without seats; a handlebar or handrail of at least 500 mm (about 19.7 in.) for motor vehicles with seats and of at least 700 mm (about 27.6 in.) for motor vehicles without seats;
- continuous rated power of no more than 500 watts, or no more than 1400 watts if at least 60% of the power is used for self-balancing;
a total width of no more than 700 mm, a total height of no more than 1400 mm (about 55 in.) and a total length of no more than 2000 mm (about 78.7 in.); and a maximum vehicle mass without driver of no more than 55 kg (about 121 lbs.)
. A light electric vehicle is self-balancing if it has built-in electronic balancing, drive, handlebar, and deceleration technology to keep it balanced autonomously.
Previously, the use of e-scooters was prohibited in Germany. With the odd exceptions, including Segways which allowed under the Mobility Help Regulation, which has been repealed and replaced by the new regulation.
Further the requirements for escooters on German Public Roads
A light electric vehicle may be driven on public roads only if it corresponds to a type for which type approval or individual approval has been issued; has valid insurance for light electric vehicles; has a vehicle identification number and a manufacturer’s data plate that states “light electric vehicle” and lists the top speed and the type approval number or individual approval number for the vehicle; and meets the requirements for deceleration devices, lighting, audible warning, and other safety measures. (Id. § 2.). Children under 14 years of age are not allowed to ride light electric vehicles. (Id. § 3.)
Riders may use only bike lanes or shared lanes for pedestrians and bikes. If there are none, light electric vehicles may be driven on the street. Public authorities may permit the use of light electric vehicles in other areas on a case-by-case basis or for specific applicants. General permission to use light electric vehicles in such traffic areas must be indicated with a traffic sign “light electric vehicles allowed."
Rules of Conduct
Riders must drive behind each other, are not allowed to hold onto other driving vehicles, and are prohibited from driving no-handed. A turn must be indicated in a timely manner with a hand signal if the light electric vehicle does not a have a blinker. Riders must pay attention to bike traffic and adjust their speed to bike traffic if necessary.
The United Kingdom
What is the timeline for the UK to finally legislating for micromobility?
We can find our answers in the recent debates in Parliament.
Including a debate on the 22nd January 2022 on escooters debated on Thursday 20 January 2022, where Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Sec. state for transport) is quoted:
"We have looked at other European countries and we will take heed of the way that they have taken forward e-scooters. For the time being we have a regulatory landscape that we put in in June 2020 following a consultation.
What does that look like for the future? I know that noble Lords are looking for certainty from me but I cannot provide that today. We are still gathering and analysing the data. We want a safe, proportionate and flexible regulatory framework if we decide that is our way forward. We have been gathering plenty of evidence: we have responses to the future of transport regulatory review, and there is further stakeholder engagement to do, including state engagement with the insurance industry.
No decision has been taken about the future legal status of e-scooters. Much as would like to give a response to my noble friend Lord Young about timelines, I cannot at this moment in time. However, if they are to be legalised, we would consider removing them from the motor vehicle category and instead creating a new bespoke category of vehicles with the appropriate regulatory regime in place."
The full script of the debate can be found here. and here