E-scooters are on everyone’s lips now that they have been licensed for use on roads: The regulation, governing electric micro vehicles (eKFV), took effect across Germany in mid June 2019. The first sharing companies are already at work in the city, and by mid July more providers will join them. As a separate authorization is not required, Hamburg aims to reach additional arrangements with the sharing services based on a voluntary agreement on regulating the eKFV. The aim is to ensure safety for all road users and to avoid chaos. Plans are being laid for a monitoring platform, Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, told reporters. The Hamburg-based provider E-Floater, the Berlin-based start-up Tier Mobility, the U.S. providers Bird and Lime, plus Sweden’s Voi are now launching their operations in Hamburg.
Micro mobility for first and last mile
Westhagemann noted: “As part of the micro and short-range mobility options, e-scooters could be an important factor in travelling the ‘first’ and ‘last’ mile. If acceptance of the sharing services is high, then people could leave their cars at home more often.” Nevertheless, experience gained in other European cities shows that there are shortcomings, he added. The sharing services will not require any separate licence from the city, he noted. Driving along public roads and parking e-scooters and other electric micro vehicles will come under common usage similar to bicycles.
Restricted zones and up to 1,000 e-scooters per provider
Thus, rules on services, short and long-term parking, checks and monitoring, road safety for e-scooters, as well as the exchange of data, is to be reached through a voluntary agreement. Particular emphasis will be on the following: Firstly, no more than 1,000 e-scooters should be on the road inside Ring 2 on any one day. Secondly, several hundred zones in Hamburg will be designated as no-parking zones for e-scooters. Local authorities reserve the right to confiscate e-scooters that are blocking pavements or cycle paths or are infringing the agreement.
The commercial authority has stipulated the following restricted zones:
1. Areas with high pedestrian traffic levels (e.g. Jungfernstieg)
2. Green areas (incl. parks)
3. Surfaces near water bodies (e.g. along the Alster)
Hamburg is also planning software showing all the shared e-scooters on a map to ensure adherence to the provisions of the agreement.
Voi and Hamburger Hochbahn to co-operate
Whereas E-Floater, Tier Mobility, Bird and Lime intend to focus on the inner city, Voi plans to operate initially on outskirts of the city in co-operation with Hamburger Hochbahn. “This is one of the first instances in the world of close co-operation between an e-scooters provider and a public transport company,” said Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and founder of Voi. Hochbahn had again proved a genuine driver of innovation, he added. The aim was to expand mobility services in Hamburg especially on the outskirts of the city. A pilot project, initially for six months, is due to be launched with parking places at stops in Berne and Poppenbüttel in July 2019.
Electric micro vehicle regulation outlines legal framework
The eKFV lays down the national legal framework for the use of e-scooters and other electric micro vehicles. These vehicles cannot travel under 6 km/h or faster than 20 km/h. The e-scooters are for use on cycle paths only and not on pavements. The road must be used, if a cycle path is not available. Electrically powered city rollers must have handlebars and mandatory front and rear brakes, front and rear lights and reflectors similar to bicycles. The minimum age for using them is 14. Users do not have to wear a helmet or to have a driver’s licence of any kind, although an insurance disc is obligatory.
Hamburg to push mobility transition
Micro-mobility over the last mile is a major theme in Hamburg’s Strategy for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS Strategy). E-scooters may yet play a key role in the mobility transition. The ITS World Congress is being held in the city in 2021. Mobility as a service is one of the strategy’s eight key areas for action. Moreover, low-emission e-mobility contributes to the climate action plan passed by the senate in 2015. Electro mobility has been earmarked therein as a lead project.