At the end of last month following fierce debates over road safety and the impact on traffic, Germany’s upper house of parliament (Bundesrat) adopted a proposal pushed forward by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer to approve the “electric propulsion vehicles” for road use. But Scheuer was forced to amend his initial suggestion to allow electric step-scooters on pavements, after it sparked an outcry from politicians, police unions and insurance groups.
Congestion and accidents
There have also been heated arguments over safety from groups representing car drivers and cyclists. They’ve warned that allowing e-step-scooters into the mix will cause congestion and accidents on Germany’s already crowded roads and cycle paths. The amendment states that electrical step-scooters will only be allowed on pavements in exceptional cases, to be expressly indicated by signs.
For ages from 14 years
Electric step-scooter users must stick to a speed limit of 20 kilometres per hour and be aged 14 years or older.
The green light to legalize such vehicles means that e-step-scooter sharing firms can now put their plans into action to roll out across Germany. One of those companies is the Berlin-based start-up Tier, which is currently active in 20 cities, and hopes to soft-launch in around 10 cities in Germany from mid-June. Meanwhile, Stockholm-based Voi currently has scooters in 18 European cities, and reportedly plans to expand that to 30 more cities in Germany alone this summer.
Volkswagen eyeing e-step-scooter market
Even German car giant Volkswagen is eyeing the e-step-scooter market with plans to incorporate them into its own car-sharing scheme by the end of the year. The presence of scooters will intensify the battle for space on Germany’s streets, where cycling associations have long demanded more and wider bicycle paths.
“Conflicts are inevitable,” social democrat politician Anke Rehlinger said during the debates, adding that ‘continuous’ effort should be made to define new rules for the e-step-scooters. Scheuer labelled them a “Genuine additional alternative for cars” in Germany’s traffic-choked cities.