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Germany: Regulation to Allow Use of E-scooters on Public Roads Enacted

(June 25, 2019) On June 14, 2019, a regulation was published in Germany’s Federal Law Gazette that allows the use of light electric vehicles on public roads. Light electric vehicles include, among other things, e-scooters and Segways. Riders must use bike lanes or, if none are available, the street. Previously, the use of e-scooters was prohibited in Germany. Segways were allowed under the Mobility Help Regulation, which has been repealed and replaced by the new regulation. (Verordnung über die Teilnahme von Elektrokleinstfahrzeugen am Straßenverkehr und zur Änderung weiterer straßenverkehrsrechtlicher Vorschriften [Elektrokleinstfahrzeugverordung] [Regulation on the Participation of Light Electric Vehicles in Road Traffic] [Light Electric Vehicles Regulation], June 6, 2019, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 756, BGBl. website.)

Definition of Light Electric Vehicles

The Light Electric Vehicles Regulation defines light electric vehicles as “motor vehicles with electric drive and a top speed of no less than 6 kmh (3.7 mph) and no more than 20 kmh (15.5 mph) that meet the following criteria:

  • a vehicle without seats or a self-balancing vehicle with or without seats;
  • a handlebar or handrail of at least 500 mm (about 19.7 in.) for motor vehicles with seats and of at least 700 mm (about 27.6 in.) for motor vehicles without seats;
  • continuous rated power of no more than 500 watts, or no more than 1400 watts if at least 60% of the power is used for self-balancing;
  • a total width of no more than 700 mm, a total height of no more than 1400 mm (about 55 in.) and a total length of no more than 2000 mm (about 78.7 in.); and
  • a maximum vehicle mass without driver of no more than 55 kg (about 121 lbs.). (Id. § 1.)

A light electric vehicle is self-balancing if it has built-in electronic balancing, drive, handlebar, and deceleration technology to keep it balanced autonomously.

Requirements for Use on Public Roads

A light electric vehicle may be driven on public roads only if it

  • corresponds to a type for which type approval or individual approval has been issued;
  • has valid insurance for light electric vehicles;
  • has a vehicle identification number and a manufacturer’s data plate that states “light electric vehicle” and lists the top speed and the type approval number or individual approval number for the vehicle; and
  • meets the requirements for deceleration devices, lighting, audible warning, and other safety measures. (Id. § 2.)

Children under 14 years of age are not allowed to ride light electric vehicles. (Id. § 3.)

Riders may use only bike lanes or shared lanes for pedestrians and bikes. If there are none, light electric vehicles may be driven on the street. Public authorities may permit the use of light electric vehicles in other areas on a case-by-case basis or for specific applicants. General permission to use light electric vehicles in such traffic areas must be indicated with a traffic sign “light electric vehicles allowed.” (Id. § 10.)

Rules of Conduct

Riders must drive behind each other, are not allowed to hold onto other driving vehicles, and are prohibited from driving no-handed. (Id. § 11, para. 1.) A turn must be indicated in a timely manner with a hand signal if the light electric vehicle does not a have a blinker. Riders must pay attention to bike traffic and adjust their speed to bike traffic if necessary. (Id. § 11, para. 4.)

Light electric vehicle riders who do not adhere to the rules as outlined in the Light Electric Vehicles Regulation can be fined up to €2,000 (about US$2,244). (Id. § 14; Straßenverkehrsgesetz [StVG] [Road Traffic Act], Mar. 5, 2003, BGBl. I at 310, 919, as amended, § 24, para. 1, sentence 1, German Laws Online website.)

Finally, the general rules for stopping and parking applicable to vehicles apply to light electric vehicles as well. (Light Electric Vehicles Regulation § 9; Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung [StVO] [Road Traffic Regulation], Mar. 6, 2013, BGBl. I at 367, as amended, § 12, German Laws Online website.)