E-steps divide opinion throughout Europe
While electric step scooters are not road legal in The Netherlands, France is debating stricter rules because of their popularity. Since there is no European legislation for electric step scooters, the regulations in every country are different.
Many Dutch buy an electric step scooter during their holiday because they see it as a useful way to get around. Once back home, they continue to use it. But the Dutch legally can’t use any of these new forms of mobility on public roads, including monowheels and hoverboards.
In The Netherlands, electric vehicles have to get a certification as ‘special mopeds’ to gain access to public roads. The procedure to do so is quite strict and cumbersome, even more so since the accident with a Stint cart. Some brands have a certificate, like the Segway, Kickbike or Trikke, but most don’t.
All around Europe, small electric forms of micro-mobility pop up. In The Netherlands, they are a dilemma for the government, says Ragnhild Davidse of the foundation for scientific research around road safety (SWOV). “From an environmental point of view and innovation, it is an interesting development. For road safety, it is a bit trickier.”
“We are beeing caught up by time,” says Jacoba van Gastel of the platform WeAllWheel. This organization wants to promote the use of light electric vehicles. “The Netherlands is very reserved when it comes to pilots.” Recently, the city of Breda wanted to experiment with Bird’s shared e-steps. Infrastructure Minister, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (VVD) didn’t grant permission. In June, van Nieuwenhuizen said that none of the e-step manufacturers had asked for a Dutch permit.
Getting injured after being bumped into by an e-step is what happened to the partners of Jean-René Albertin and Arnaud Kielbasa. They started Apacauvi, an organization that wants more strict rules around e-steps in France. The French minister of mobility received the representatives to talk about their grievances.
“The talks went down in a constructive atmosphere. We were alone, no representatives of shared e-bike providers were present,” says Apacauvi President Albertin. “It was a meeting to hear Apacauvi’s position, as we do with all actors concerned by the future legislation of e-steps,” said the Minister’s cabinet.
The next step for Apacauvi, which has 1.400 members, is a class-action lawsuit against the Paris city council. By not creating a legislative framework, the city is endangering the lives of its citizens, says Apacauvi.
The accidents with e-steps, which at 25 km/h can go faster than regular bikes, have multiplied, as they became more popular. Since the beginning of spring, already three people died, and 160 to 200 accidents occur each month in the Île-de-France region, according to Apacauvi vice-president Kielbasa.
To stop the incidents, Apacauvi has asked the state to take measures in the new mobility law, which the French parliament will study in September (Loi d’Orientation sur les Mobilités – LOM). Apacauvi wants all shared e-steps and their users to be registered appropriately.
Apacauvi has planned a meeting with the five deputies that will report for the LOM. “We know the battle will be fierce, we are in a post-‘gilets jaunes’-trauma, and we feel that lawmakers don’t want to add too many limitations in terms of mobility,” Kielbasa concludes.