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E-scooters get the green light on Germany's roads

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E-scooters get the green light on Germany's roads
Photo: DPA/HUK-COBURG
14:58 CEST+02:00
Germany on Friday authorized battery-powered scooters on its streets and cycle paths but banned them from pavements to protect pedestrians as the two-wheeled craze continues to spread across Europe.

Following fierce debate over road safety and the impact on traffic, Germany's upper house of parliament (the Bundesrat) adopted a proposal pushed forward by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer to approve the "electric propulsion vehicles" for road use.

But Scheuer was forced to amend his initial suggestion to allow electric scooters on pavements, after it sparked an outcry from politicians, police unions and insurance groups.

There has also been heated arguments over safety from groups representing car drivers and cyclists. They've warned that allowing e-scooters into the mix will cause congestion and accidents on Germany's already crowded roads and cycle paths.

SEE ALSO: Pedal power: The rise and rise of cargo bikes in Germany

Scooters for 14 years and over

The amendment states that electrical scooters will only be allowed on pavements in exceptional cases, to be expressly indicated by signs.

E-scooter users must stick to a speed limit of 20 kilometres per hour and be aged 14 years or older.

The green light to legalize the vehicles means that e-scooter sharing firms can now put their plans to roll out across Germany into action.

One of those companies is the Berlin-based start-up Tier, which is currently active in 20 cities, and hopes to soft-launch in around 10 cities in Germany from mid-June.

Meanwhile, Stockholm-based Voi currently has scooters in 18 European cities, and reportedly plans to expand that to 30 more cities in Germany alone this summer.

Even German car giant Volkswagen is eyeing the e-scooter market with plans to incorporate them into its own car-sharing scheme by the end of the year.

The presence of scooters will intensify the battle for space on Germany's streets, where cycling associations have long demanded more and wider bicycle paths.

"Conflicts are inevitable," Social Democrat politician Anke Rehlinger said Thursday, adding that "continuous" effort should be made to define new rules for the e-scooters.

Scheuer labelled the scooters a "genuine additional alternative for cars" in Germany's traffic-choked cities.

 

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