Legality of eScooters around the world

  • TECH
  • Sunday, 28 Jul 2019

Germany lifted the ban against battery-powered scooters on its streets and cycle paths but banned them from pavements. → AFP

One of the issues affecting shared eScooter services is the legality of riding and parking the vehicles, which may vary from city to city.

For instance, in May, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) instructed companies offering shared eScooter services to get proper permits before operating in the city, warning that those without permits would have their scooters seized.

DBKL executive director (socio-economic development) Datuk Ibrahim Yusoff said no آ­permits have been issued to any company to operate eScooter آ­services in Kuala Lumpur.

In The Star report (DBKL: Get permission before operating آ­service here), he said: “DBKL has to determine suitable areas to park the vehicles, permitted routes, operational aspects as well as the safety of eScooter users, motorists and pedestrians. We do not want it to be like oBike.”

DBKL was tasked with collecting abandoned oBikes left all over the city after the company folded – they were then sold as scrap metal. 

A DBKL spokesperson confirmed that it still has not issued any آ­permits. 

Asked if any had applied for one, the spokesperson said none had, adding that an application also requires a draft on how the company plans to operate. 

Neuron Mobility declined to comment whether it was in talks with DBKL and if it had withdrawn its service from the capital city. Its website currently only lists Cyberjaya.

Beam corporate affairs vice-آ­president Christopher Hilton said it has formed partnerships with other companies to park its vehicles on their premises, including Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) in the KL Sentral Area. 

Asked if the company is in talks with the Transport Ministry about its operations, he said he was آ­recommended to work with city councils as rules could vary from town to town.

He said eScooters are not technically classified as a vehicle under Malaysian traffic law as it is neither a bicycle nor a motorcycle despite having an electric motor. 

For a bigger picture on eScooters, here’s how other countries treat them, including for private ownership:

Singapore classifies eScooters as personal mobility devices (PMDs), allowing them to travel up to 10kph on footpaths, 25kph on shared paths (used by bicycles) and banned on pedestrian-only آ­walkways. The eScooter must also weigh under 20kg and be under 70cm in width.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Road Traffic Act categorises eScooters as motorbikes, requiring it to be driven on the road while wearing a helmet. Riders must also be over 16 years old and have a two-wheeled motor vehicle driver’s licence.

Under Japanese traffic law, eScooters and other battery-آ­powered vehicles are treated as motorised bicycles. As such it must be equipped with license plates and side mirrors. 

The United States has varying opinions on the legality of eScooters – West Hollywood, California bans it from sidewalks; Columbia, South Carolina has imposed a one-year ban starting January this year; while Nashville, Tennessee آ­completely bans scooters.

Across the pond in the Britain, the Highway Act 1835 makes it illegal to ride eScooters on the pavement. The Road Traffic Act 1988 also states riding an eScooter on the road is an offence, unless the user has a driver’s licence, insurance, helmet and registration plate.

After banning eScooters last December, Madrid City Hall did an about turn, granting licenses for 8,600 shared eScooters to 18 out of the 25 companies who applied for licenses. 

In May, Germany lifted its ban against eScooters, allowing it on roads and bicycle paths but forbids it from being used on pavements. Riders must be above 14 years old and keep under the 20kph speed limit.

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