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Over the last few months, in certain areas along with vehicles and motorcycles, another means of alternative transport for short distances has also increased: E-scooters. They do not harm the environment, they work with an electric motor and you can use your feet…however they are often a source of inconvenience such as when they are left haphazardly on the pavements. They are also a danger when they are ridden against the direction of traffic.
It is not just a matter of getting on a scooter and riding off because using it is regulated by law. It needs to be registered and covered by insurance for third parties. Although the wearing of a helmet is not obligatory, those who ride a scooter needs a licence.
These two people on an E-scooter broke the law because it can only be used by one person at a time. The same can be said for those who ride it in a tunnel or subway. It is also not allowed in arterial roads or adjoining roads. E-scooters are only intended for short distances.
Regulations which came into effect a year and a half ago say that E-scooters can be used on the pavement, promenade, cycle lane or walking lane at a velocity which does not go over 10 kms per hour. On the road, the velocity can reach 20 kms per hour but they must always be ridden in the direction of traffic.
An E-kickscooter is not like a bicycle. It is not a matter of buying or renting one and riding it on the road. Pierre Montebello – a Transport Malta official – explained that by law, only registered E-scooters can be used. There are slightly more than 1000 scooters registered – many of them belonging to operators.
“Some operators are following the rules to register and insure their scooters, as required. However, we are seeing that there are various individuals who are not doing this. If you buy an E-scooter and you are going to use it on the road, you are supposed to register it and insure it. If they do not do this, they are not in conformity with the law.”
Mr Montebello explained that with every registration which costs €10, one is given a registration number which needs to be affixed to the scooter. An E-kickscooter can only be ridden by those aged 16 and over.
“If you have a motorcycle or car licence that is enough. Those over 16 require what is called an AM licence which has been there for a while but it was dormant so to speak. To make it easy all you need is a theory test so that we can have our mind at rest that those who are on the road know the traffic regulations.”
There are often complaints about scooters which are left to obstruct the pavements. Although they can be parked on pavements, the law says that scooters should never prevent access to pedestrians.
From 2018 to date, 13 people have been injured in traffic accidents involving E-scooters. Six of them occurred this year, half of which sustained grievous injuries.
The fines for those who breach the regulations can go up to thousands of Euro. These regulations are enforced by the LESA agency which in the first half of this year issued around 725 contraventions – many of them because of bad and dangerous parking in Sliema, St Julian’s and Ta’ Xbiex. A spokesperson for LESA said that when compared with the previous year, there was a substantial increase even because over the last few months, the operators of this service has increased. The agency meets with these operators often to ensure that this means of transport is used in the safest way possible.