There’s some bad news for electric scooters, but good news for pedestrians. The Czech Transport Ministry has issued an opinion that the scooters are not allowed on sidewalks, under any circumstances.
Under the legal operating rules for electric scooters in the Czech Republic they can be considered not only as bicycles but also as motor vehicles, depending on the speed and power of the scooter. If they are motor vehicles, more rules apply.
“In any case, however, scooters must not be used on sidewalks,” the ministry said. Bicycles are also banned on the sidewalk, unless it is designated as a cycle path.
Some Prague districts have complained about the scooters and asked the Transport Ministry to issue a binding opinion on the operation of electric scooters. The Prague 2 district in particular has complained about the scooters since their introduction. Prague City Hall, though, sees then as a way to reduce car traffic and pollution from fossil fuels.
The Transport Ministry said that in order for scooters to be considered bicycles and used on cycle paths or in pedestrian zones, they must meet several basic parameters. Their maximum speed must not exceed 25 km / hour, or the engine should switch off after reaching this speed. The power that should not exceed 1 kilowatt.
According to the ministry, if scooters do mot meet the requirements the law considers them motor vehicles. In this case, they should not be allowed in pedestrian zones and their users should also have a driver’s license.
US-based shared electric scooter company Lime, however, claims their scooters meet the rules for bicycles. Lime says it is trying to cooperate with the city and its districts so it can avoid the fate of Segways, which were banned in much of the city after operators didn’t heed complaints.
Lime has about 1,500 scooters in Prague. They said their scooters have a limited top speed of 24.9 km / hour and a power output of 250 watts. Scooter users therefore follow the same rules that apply to cyclists, and users do not need a driver’s license, according to the company.
The Transport Ministry says cities may limit the operation of electric scooters in some locations. The operation of electric scooters with an output of more than 250 watts in pedestrian zones can be banned, if proper signs are in place.
The Prague 2 Town Hall recently announced it would file a criminal complaint against Lime on suspicion of committing a crime of general menace. The district wants the scooters banned completely on its territory due to users riding on the sidewalk and parked scooters blocking the street. According to a survey by Prague 2, some 75% of residents oppose the scooters. Accidents involving scooters have been on the rise.
The Prague 1 district is also seeking tougher rules.
The idea for shared electric scooters is not likely to go away soon. Carmaker Škoda Auto also plans to introduce both shared scooters and electric cars to Prague.
Lime was established in the US state of California in January 2017. It is mainly active in the US but has been expanding to Europe and Australia. Its founders say they want to reduce people’s dependence on passenger cars for short-distance transport.