If we can’t ban them, then they must be regulated, and soon, before it’s too late.

I recently sat and passed my test for a Luxembourg driving license, as I didn’t have a current EU one. So after more than three decades on the roads in cars, trucks motorbikes and cycles, I found myself looking at the road through a newbie’s perspective. And what I saw was terrifying!

Not only do most people not understand the basics (Roundabouts people!), but there are a lot of grey areas that will only cause more and more problems in time. It’s bad enough that the bicycle mafia have taken over and everything is manoeuvred to sate their growing lust for power, but electric scooters, skateboards and unicycles have seen the loopholes and are attempting to widen them into a Fury Route Apocalypse.

Are Daydreams Electric?

I get it, you’re hip, cool and care more about the environment than anyone else. You daydream about a new, clean and efficient way to travel. But that doesn’t mean you get to make things up as you go along.

Are you a vehicle? Stay on the road and follow road rules. Are you a pedestrian? No? Then why are you on the sidewalk? Are you both? None of the above? Do you think you’re safer than cars? Then why do you zoom behind busses then jump kerbs only to roll through grass, skimming past elderly couples, children and mothers with prams to cut 1 minute off your travel time?

Do they think the rules don’t apply to them? Well, in part, no they don’t.

Regulation debate

As my driving instructor told me (after a scooter jumped the kerb beside us to zoom through the pedestrian crossing in front) rules for this “new” style of transport are vague and ill defined. There’s currently a debate underway in Germany, France and Ireland where new rules being discussed and implemented.

Their use is rising rapidly because they are efficient, mobile and low-cost vehicles. With US scooter ride sharing giant Lime making a push into Europe, we are sure to see an exponential rise in their use, with the accompanying rise in problems.

Though micro-mobility has been around for many decades - with the bicycle the original small transport innovation - battery-boosted vehicles ranging from small electric roller-skates to skateboards to unicycles, e-bicycles (you know you’re cheating, right?) through to multi-passenger busses have taken over our transport thinking. With this rise comes an increasing pressure for regulation and legal clarity.

Nothing but problems.

Electric scooters, skateboards and unicycles are mechanically propelled vehicles, so they must be driven on roads, have insurance, road tax and require a driving licence. Yes? No? And what about electric bikes? They are a “motor” bike, but you don’t need a driving licence and you can’t ride them on footpaths if you’re older than 12.

Are there penalty points, fines and possible seizure of a scooter for scooting while under the influence? What exactly are the procedures to tax or insure skateboards, scooters and unicycles? What are the road safety implications of using these vehicles on public roads when interacting with other vehicles?

What about the safety concerns, not just for the users themselves, but cyclists, pedestrians and motorists?

These are just the automatic and immediate questions that come to mind. If you think about it for another 30 minutes, there’s bound do be another 10 questions  that need to be answered.

Regulate Now!

To be allowed on public roads we should know where we stand, treat them like bicycles regarding traffic regulations if you want. However, there will undoubtedly have to be extra rules that will need be applied and defined, starting with licensing and behavioural aspects.

I think they should be banned, but I don’t think that will happen because of the Big Cycle money behind it.

Regulation is essential, as vehicles or something else or whatever we choose but a serious, detailed discussion has to start.

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George Hatzidakis