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Will fines for electric scooter riders in German cities improve safety?

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Will fines for electric scooter riders in German cities improve safety?
A man drives on a Berlin street in an e-scooter, before the new legislation is enacted. Photo: DPA
11:11 CEST+02:00
From Saturday, e-scooters will be officially allowed in German cities. Will fines for riders who break the rules be enforced?

Electric scooter riders who break the rules will be fined various amounts - ranging from 70 for not having a proper license to 15 for driving alongside another e-scooter rider.

But unions have warned that it could be difficult to enforce the laws due to a shortage of officers. 

Oliver Malchow, chair of the German Police Union, told DPA that the number of police officers has been reduced in recent years, and that their time is already allocated for “much more important activities".

As part of a plan from Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer approved in May, the new battery powered scooters are to be inspected as part of routine traffic checks.

While to be allowed from June 15th, it not expected that the e-scooters will hit the roads until July, reported dpa. Manufacturers must also apply for general operating permits for their models, and buyers and lessors will need liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung).

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

Malchow agreed that routine controls would increase safety, “but unfortunately, we don't have the capacity."

Police officers would "certainly carry out the checks,” he added, but only if their time is not tied up with other traffic hazards.

Safety concerns

Even before a proposal for e-scooters was approved by Germany’s upper house of parliament (Bundesrat) in May, there was heated arguments between groups representing car drivers and cyclists.

They've warned that allowing e-scooters into the traffic mix will cause congestion and accidents on Germany's already crowded roads and cycle paths.

Yet proponents of e-scooter use in Germany say that the vehicles will ease traffic congestion. There is a specific set of rules that need to be followed: namely drivers can’t exceed 20 kilometres per hour, have to stick to pedestrian areas, and have to be over 14 years old.

Those who infringe the rules will be hit with a fine of up to 70 if they don’t have a proper license. Driving without a valid insurance sticker will be fined 40, and failing to meet lighting regulations or have a built-in bell will slapped with further fines.

Anyone who rides in "not permissible traffic areas", or rides next to another e-scooter motorist, must fork out 15, an amount increased to 25 if the act is deemed to endanger public safety.

Worries about safety were further heightened in Paris following the first fatality in an e-scooter in the French capital on Monday night.

The incident followed several other injuries resulting from e-scooter usage in France, where the vehicles are becoming increasingly more popular.

SEE ALSO: Paris: Electric scooter rider killed in traffic collision

The motorized vehicles, however, will be banned from pedestrian areas in French capital from September due largely to safety concerns.

Exposed to risks

Like pedestrians and cyclists, the drivers of electric scooters are exposed to risks, Malchow said.

"To be overlooked, to collide with others, the danger of course exists," he said.

The narrow space shared by several road users - namely cyclists - is particularly risky. The cyclists' club ADFC has demanded that the cycle paths be extended in order to prepare for sharing the roads with the e-scooters.

Many politicians praise the approval of the new quick vehicles as a symbol of modern mobility, and a way to significantly cut congestion.

Malchow, however, remained cautious that drivers or cyclists would immediately flock to e-scooters. "They are playground equipment," he said.

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