If you happen to take a trip overseas, especially to Los Angeles or San Francisco, you might realize what micromobility actually means: hundreds of people using electric scooters – less bulky than a bike and greener than a car – for their urban movements, as alternative means for short routes in the city.
And they do it by sharing. Imagine a car sharing system with e-scooters instead of cars and you will have the e-scooter sharing phenomenon.
Several US companies, as early as 2017 have begun investing in the urban mobility revolution, through the sharing of innovative and sustainable means of transportation that allow adults with a valid driving license and a credit card to rent an e-scooter for 1 dollar per ride, plus 15 cents per minute.
The phenomenon is catching on even in Italy: according to Legambiente, in our country about 45 thousand electric scooters were sold in 2017 alone.
The advantages of switching to an alternative or complementary vehicle are obvious, in particular if you imagine the e-scooter as a solution for the so-called last mile, i.e. for when you get off other means of transportation and you find yourself in railway hubs, interchange car parks and similar areas, with the need to arrive at your finale destination in a fast, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way. E-scooters are light, weigh less than 12 kilos, reach a maximum of 25 km/h, have a range of about 30 kilometers and are affordable.
In short, the new momentum for electric micromobility seems to be very beneficial and ecofriendly.
CAN E-SCOOTERS CIRCULATE IN ITALY?
Nevertheless, Italy lacks a specific regulatory framework for the phenomenon of micromobility.
In fact, in the Codice della strada (Legislative Decree No. 285/1992), which regulates the circulation of vehicles, there is no explicit reference to e-scooters, unlike, for example, bicycles with pedal assistance, which instead are considered ordinary bicycles as long as the engine respects some requirements.
One solution could be including e-scooters in the category of speed accelerators, the use of which is prohibited both on the roadway and in the spaces reserved for pedestrians by art. 190, par. 8 and 9, c.d.s., which state that “circulation by the means of boards, skids or other speed accelerators is prohibited on the roadway. (…) On spaces reserved for pedestrians it is forbidden to use boards, skids or other speed accelerators that could create dangerous situations for other users.”. The following par. 10 provides for offenders the “administrative fine of the payment of a sum from € 26 to € 102” (sum most recently increased by decree 27.12.2018 in O.J. of 29.12.2018, No. 301, in force since 1.1.2019).
However, to better understand the configuration of these new means of transport, we must take into account the Ministerial Circular of the Rome Terrestrial Transportation Department n. 300/A/1/46049/104/5, according to which, by virtue of the D.M. 31 January 2003, implementing Directive 2002/24/EC, two or three-wheel motor vehicles with a maximum speed exceeding 6 km/h and which are not pedal-assisted bycicles, nor built for use by children or invalids, are to be considered – depending on the performance and construction characteristics – mopeds or motorcycles.
Considering e-scooters as mopeds (if they exceed 6 km / h, and this is usually the case), would imply that they must undergo a homologation procedure (Ministerial Decree of May 2, 2001, No. 277). E-scooters would require a license plate, registration and insurance, and they could not be conducted without the use of a helmet, as their circulation would be subject to the requirements identified in articles 97 (formalities necessary for the circulation of mopeds) and 93 (formalities necessary for the circulation of cars, motorcycles and trailers) of the c.d.s., whose violation implies much higher sanctions.
THE 2019 BUDGET LAW: THE REVOLUTION OF MICROMOBILITY IN STAND BY
Finally, the 2019 Budget Law (L. 30.12.2018, No. 145), par. 102, art. 1, was issued, which provides that “in order to support the dissemination of electric mobility and promote the use of innovative and sustainable means of transportation”, an experimentation of the circulation on roads of “predominantly electric propulsion vehicles for personal mobility such as segways, hoverboards and scooters” is authorized in the cities.
However, the new provision requires the adoption of a decree by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, to define the methods of implementation and the operational tools of the experimentation. This decree should have been adopted within thirty days from the date of entry into force of the law, and therefore at the end of January, but to date it is not published and, in the absence of the necessary implementing provisions, the experimentation risks to go unheeded.
Now, if it is true that the rules governing the circulation of electric scooters are a fundamental prerequisite for the dissemination of these innovative means, it is also true that there are many aspects to be regulated; among these there are certainly parking and recharging infrastructures, on the discipline of which the single local administrations will be called to intervene, as well as possible forms of incentive.