From speed limits to mandatory helmets: how European countries are changing their e-scooter rules

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Love them or hate them, electric scooters have become a staple in many European countries.

The electric scooter rental market in Europe has exploded in recent years, with electric scooters becoming increasingly popular in urban areas and with young people.

The turnover of the European electric scooter sharing market is expected to reach 651.90 million euros this year, according to Statisticalwhile the number of users is expected to reach 55.5 million by 2026.

Electric scooters are considered an easy and relatively affordable way for people to get around. However, recent deaths and accidents involving electric scooters have prompted authorities to take a closer look at the use of these vehicles.

At EU level, the European Commission is examining the possibility of developing guidelines, while technical standards are also being considered as part of possible standardization plans.

In the meantime, countries are taking matters into their own hands:

Rome and Paris: limited speed limits

Authorities in Rome are taking steps to crack down on electric scooters, including limiting their use to adults who must provide official ID and further limiting the speed at which they can go.

The speed limit for electric scooters in the Italian capital will be reduced from 25 km/h to 20 km/h on roads and 6 km/h in car-free pedestrian zones. The number of electric scooter rental operators will also be limited to three, and there will be restrictions on parking.

The new restrictions are due to come into force in January 2023, under a new draft regulation seen by AFP.

This follows similar restrictions in other European capitals. Paris introduced new rules for electric scooter hire last year, after a pedestrian was killed by a scooter.

The new regulations cap the speed limit for rental electric scooters at 10 km/h in certain areas of the French capital, including around major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.

Scooters run by rental companies Dott, Tier and Lime, tracked in real time by geolocation, are automatically slowed to half their normal top speed once they enter designated areas.

Operators are also taking steps to combat rogue parking, requiring users to take a photo to prove they dropped off the scooter in the right place.

Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm: night bans, reduction in the number of electric scooters

The authorities of several European countries have also decided to ban the rental of electric scooters at certain times of the day in an attempt to limit accidents.

In July last year, the Norwegian capital Oslo banned the overnight rental of electric scooters following an outcry from doctors over the number of injuries sustained.

Authorities in Helsinki last September also banned the rental of electric scooters after midnight on weekends and lowered their speed limit after a series of accidents caused by drunk drivers.

In November, councilors in Stockholm voted to nearly halve the number of rental electric scooters allowed in the Swedish capital and to reduce the number of licensed scooter rental companies from eight to three.

Denmark, Spain and Norway: mandatory helmets, minimum technical standards

Many countries have introduced compulsory helmets for riders, notably in Denmark and Spain. The latter also introduces minimum technical standards for electric scooters.

In Norway, wearing a helmet is compulsory for drivers up to the age of 15. The country has also introduced the same drink-driving limits as for motorists.

UK set to expand use of e-scooters

In the UK, the use of e-scooters is only legal for hire on public roads – private e-scooters are prohibited on public roads and pavements. However, the government has said new rules to expand the legal use of electric scooters are a priority for the coming year.

“While it is currently illegal to drive a private e-scooter on public land, we are considering how best to design future regulations and our transport bill will help us take the steps we need to make e-scooters safer and support innovation,” a government spokesperson said, according to a report from the BBC.

Official rental trial programs have been implemented in dozens of regions across the country.

As part of these trials, users must adhere to specific restrictions, including maximum speeds of 25 km/h and the need to have a driving license allowing the use of a trial electric scooter. Helmets are recommended but not a legal requirement.

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