European escooter safety legislation
March 21, 2022Legal
European experiences of accidents with escooters according to the recent PACT report.
The report that came out this week writes it is sometimes said that other European countries have developed ways to accommodate e-scooters and that the UK needs to “catch up”. Certainly we have written how Ireland have produced the "Personal Transporter" law to accommodate escooters and micromobility.
The PACT report claim that the UK's need to catch up is too much of a simplification. European countries are still modifying their laws and looking for ways to safely manage e-scooters and micromobility. Having written a report a year ago on the early findings of the escooter trails back in 2021.
Escooters were legalised in Belgium and Germany in June 2019 and in France regulations came into force in September 2019.
Private escooter use is now permitted across most countries with the UK and the Netherlands exceptions to this rule.
We have recently written on the different models in Europe.
The big difference is the proportion of private escooters to rental scooters in the UK compare to mainland Europe.
Renting an escooter, instead of buying one, is more popular in many European cities.
As new micromobility technologies are developed, and e-scooters are introduced in an ad hoc manner, European institutions and standardisation bodies have not agreed unified safety standards for micromobility.
Seemingly the framework suited renting far more. The differences being the maximum power output is 750 KW/h rather than the 250 KW/h here in the UK before the definition of the vehicle becomes a car. Plus they have a greater experience with Pedalacs.
The ‘micromobility revolution’ according to the European Commission requires more effort in terms of sharing best practice and providing guidance, especially as these vehicles pose significant safety challenges.
Standards for the construction of e-scooters are set in EN 17128: 2020, the type c (product)standard for Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV).
This voluntary standard has been developed by the European Committee for Standardisation.
This includes e-scooters but it comes with a number of caveats:
Vehicles excluded are: - those considered as toys; - vehicles without a self-balancing system; - vehicles with a seat; - electrically powered assisted cycles - (EPAC), electric vehicles having a maximum design speed above 25 Km/h (15.5mph) and - those not subject to type-approval for on-road use’. - These standards are being take into law by some Governments. Note:
For example, from January 2022, Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic approved a ‘Manual of characteristics of the vehicles of personal mobility’. - This subsumed standards from EN 17128:2020 with lighting and electrical requirements as well as minimum 203.2mm (8 inch) wheels and the inclusion of anti-tampering measures.
There are no common standards for use. However, by following EN 17128: 2020, capping the speed of escooters to 25km/h (15.5mph) or below is one regulation on which most European countries agree.
In Finland, rental scheme operators limit e-scooter speeds to 20 km/h (12.5mph), and 15 km/h (9mph) at night, and in Paris the speed of rented e-scooters is limited to 10 km/h (6mph) within certain central areas.
The French Government now realise how bad cars are they are forcing adverts to illistrate car alternatives including micromobility. The UK could easily follow suit.
While regulations in some countries were initially like those for pedal cycles. Changes are being made to align escooters more closely with motor vehicles. Including power limits, use on pavements, age restrictions and the need for insurance vary.
Helmets are compulsory in Finland, Greece, and Denmark and in March 2022 Spain.
The creation of a new category of motor vehicle has been mooted and created in Ireland in 2021. Called the Personal Transporter law.
As such escooters would need to obtain type approval.
In Germany e-scooters are considered as a new category of motor vehicle. Riders are required to have insurance but, unlike mopeds, they can used on cycle paths.
Typically compared to the UK, the estimated number of private escooters in Germany is just 20% of the number of rental escooters in use in Germany. It is the opposite in the UK.
Micromobility in Germany regulations mean that all escooters should have a maximum speed of 20km/h (12.5mph) and power of 500W.
Recommendations from safety micromobility organisations in Europe alongside the existing micromobility legislation. These EU safety bodies are calling for more stringent regulations.
The VIAS institute (Belgian Road Safety Research Institute) proposed five recommends they say would fill the gap around current legislation.
A minimum age limit of 16 years for escooter riders and prohibited pavement riding.
The DVR (German Road Safety Council) has listed eleven recommendations for Micromobility.
Visibility should be increased with indicators and reflective materials.
Riders should be 15 years old and, if they have had no other road awareness training, should pass a test before they can ride.
The use and design of infrastructure is covered with two recommendations: regulations for the use of cycle paths by e-scooters and improvements to the quality of segregated paths by local authorities.
In Holland, only operator owned rental escooters are permitted for Escooters. Like in the UK private escooters are banned on public roads.
SWOV, the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research, presents two safety criteria:
- innovative LEVs can be admitted to road traffic if, on balance, the social benefits of admittance exceed the costs and if, at any rate, road traffic becomes safer and that only those vehicles that are similar to regular bicycles in size, weight, speed and function can safely be used on bicycle tracks.
They are clear that choices will have to be made about which new vehicles can be admitted where and under what conditions and which urban mobility the Dutch Government want to facilitate in the future.
Here we are half way through the debate of how Micromobility will be shaped in the future. Much of the guidance will come from Europe.