Germany: kick-scooters now legal and set to multiply
Kick-scooters and similar LEVs are now road-legal in Germany with the official publication of the “Ordinance on the Participation of Small Electric Vehicles in Road Traffic”. Large scale rollouts are underway in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
Although manufacturers have to apply for a general operating permit from the KBA for their vehicles, and operators or purchasers must apply for 3rd party liability insurance, operators are already implementing large-scale rollouts in Hamburg and Munich as well as Berlin.
Until this month in Germany, only the electric mobility aids defined in the Mobility Assistance Ordinance (MobHV) could be used on public roads, which includes the electric standing scooters known under the Segway brand. The new Small Electric Vehicle Ordinance (eKFV) changes this and also allows “electrically powered vehicles without seats and self-balancing vehicles”. This refers to so-called electric pedal-scooters. The regulation entails the following pre-requisites:
Steering and holding rod
Maximum 70 centimetres wide, 1.40 metres high and 2.00 metres long.
Permitted maximum weight: 55 kg (without rider)
Maximum design speed of at least six to at most 20 km/h
Power limitation to 500 watts (1,400 watts for self-balancing vehicles)
Compliance with “driving dynamics” minimum requirements
To be more precise, the miniature electric vehicles must be roadworthy, be able to brake, be controllable and have a lighting system.
In addition to the technical conditions, buyers or lessors must take out liability insurance for electric pedal scooters. The first insurance companies already offer this for 29 euro per year. However, there is no fixed insurance number plate. Instead, an insurance sticker is issued that should be attached to the back of the vehicle, if possible under the tail light.
Electric pedal scooters may only be driven on cycle paths or cycle lanes. Where these do not exist, the vehicles must be driven on the road. However, towns, municipalities and local authorities can use an additional sign to clear paths for electric pedal scooters.
In this context, fines are payable for infringements. Anyone who moves an electric pedal scooter without a general operating licence, for example, pays 70 euros. Driving without an insurance sticker costs 40 euros. Among other regulations, inadequate lighting is fined 20 euros, and driving on “unacceptable traffic areas” or side by side comes with a 15 euro-fine.
In Munich, the provider Tier Mobility is now providing around 1,500 electric pedal scooters as part of a cooperation with public transport operator Münchner Verkehrsgesellschaft (MVG): 100 within the historic city centre, 1,000 between the centre and the outer ring road and a good 400 outside of that. The scooters will be available this month via the app “Tier – Scooter Sharing”.
According to Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation, companies that will be making use of the new laws in Hamburg are: E-Floater (formerly Floatility), the Berlin startup Tier Mobility, the American offerers Bird and Lime as well as Voi from Sweden. While E-Floater, Tier Mobility, Bird and Lime want to concentrate on the city centre, the Swedish provider Voi plans to become the first company to service the city outskirts- in co-operation with the Hamburg public transport operator, Hamburg Hochbahn.
Within the framework of a voluntary agreement between Hamburg and the providers, regulations on the organisation of the services, parking, control and monitoring, traffic safety of the electric pedal scooters and data exchange are regulated, but still, need to be finalised. Two important key points here: on the one hand, no more than 1,000 e-scooters may be on the move per day per sharing provider within the middle city ring road. On the other hand, Hamburg will define several hundred zones in which the parking of e-scooters is prohibited. In addition, the districts reserve the right to collect e- pedal scooters that block footpaths and cycle paths or violate the agreement.
Also in Berlin, our team on the ground has spotted the first flotilla of Lime electric scooters.