The increasingly popular kick scooters that Lime or Bird and lately even Daimler have rolled out en masse in cities across the world are still illegal in Germany. However this is to change next year and already Bird has found a first partner city and while it begins with a ‘B’ it is not an obvious choice.
The town starts with B yes but it is not Berlin nor any of the other bigger cities in Germany such as Hamburg where one may expect such a pilot project. Instead Bird chose Bamberg or perhaps Bamberg chose Bird, but in any case, the U.S. start-up will deploy a fleet of electric scooters in the university town in southern Germany starting next year.
Test drivers will begin using the service as early as this December though, when they will still need a special permit. As soon as the new regulation for very small electric vehicles will come into force however – Bird expects this will be in “spring” 2019 – the supplier plans to expand its Bamberg fleet to 100 electric scooters. This is just the pilot phase, before the project may go into regular operation next summer.
The EU officially calls the electric kick scooter or electric skateboards Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV) that more and more services promote as ideal for the last mile. Germany has long permitted their use but agreed to change the law sometime next year. We reported the details here but essentially it is a harmonisation with European legislation.
However, some problems have not been addressed that also affect electric bikes. Take for example the requirement for Personal Light Electric Vehicles to use the cycle path. These are already overcrowded in many cities and the different speeds will likely lead to problems. Moreover, the compulsory number plate may fuel the debate whether (electric) bicycles need an insurance as well (we reported). Still, with patience and tolerance these little last mile electric vehicles will foremost become a new and fun way to zoom around, well, Bamberg for now.
spiegel.de (in German)