Regulations, Probably Even Type-Approval Coming for Electric Step-Scooters
BRUSSELS, Belgium – You can see them in more and more cities around Europe. And the numbers of docked and/or free-floating electric step-scooters on offer on the streets is growing like wildfire. As well as their use. With that accidents occur, recently the first fatal one in Brussels, triggering major concerns among officials and institutions at many levels. The result is that regulations will be coming, probably even set by the EU.
A recent market study by researcher Mobility Foresight estimates that electric step-scooters are currently being used in some 35 Capitals and cities around Europe with Paris and Berlin being the hotspots. More, much more is to come which is evidenced by just looking around in city traffic where step-scooter users are popping up in growing numbers. That also caught the eye of ‘Brussels’ where it’s a hot topic now. At least that says Manuel Marsilio, General Manager of the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI).
Brussels getting very concerned
“With the first fatal accident involving an electric step-scooter user that happened recently and with usage growing rapidly, Brussels is starting to be seriously concerned. Moreover, electric step scooters can sometimes reach very high speeds that go beyond 25 km/h and there are rising concerns about unpredictable braking incidents,” explains Marsilio. “As a result at European level, rumours says that there might be work on EU policy guidelines, in full respect of the subsidiarity principle. And taking into account that e-step-scooters were just recently legalized in Germany and are totally forbidden on public roads in the UK currently.”
The CONEBI GM adds that there’s ongoing work taking place at CEN level.
Safety standard for personal light electric vehicles
At that level already in 2016 work started for getting to a voluntary standard that will provide safety requirements for personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs). A framework dealing with their use is to be developed for new modes of urban mobility like electric step-scooters, Segway’s and self-balancing vehicles (including single wheel transporters). These PLEVs are currently put on the market without prior harmonized test methods based on shared methods. European Directives do indeed exist, but they don’t provide any specific requirements for these machines, nor do they prevent the sale of badly performing or even hazardous products. Here’s more on the safety standard for PLEVs.
Within type-approval scope?
The question is also whether electric step-scooters, which in many cases are equipped with motors of over 250W and capable of speeds of over 25km/h, are to be considered like e-bikes. Meaning that more is needed for protecting users than just a safety standard like EN 15194 that applies to 25km/h electric bicycles.
On this Manuel Marsilio says “Maybe such electric step-scooters have to fall within the current type-approval scope applying for instance to e-scooters, e-mopeds, or other vehicles with over 250W motors which are throttle operated.”
Measures set by national governments
The comments made by the CONEBI GM make clear that the awareness process for what electric step-scooters sharing and their use in cities are bringing, has only just started in Brussels. If it means that EU regulations are still a long way off. But measures could also be set by national governments, as is the case in France already. See for that our next report in this Bike Europe newsletter.