LEVA-EU calls on Maltese government to embrace e-scooters
104 days ago
E-scooter sharing businesses in Malta are currently obstructed by the negative attitude of national authorities to the extent that the companies’ survival is at risk. It is bizarre that the Maltese government does not embrace e-scooters as the country suffers from the almost heaviest car ownership and car use in the EU. LEVA-EU calls on the Maltese government for a rethink.
E-scooters in Malta are legally categorised as motor vehicles, which allows traffic authorities to “tow” away and confiscate any e-scooter that is considered to be in breach of traffic regulations. The cost amounts to € 200 plus € 15 per day for parking cost. In the case of shared e-scooters these costs are charged to the provider. Consequently, the sharing companies are being flooded with fines that rise like a financial sword of Damocles over them.
Another existential threat to these companies stems from the requirement for e-scooter riders to have at least an AM driving license. It is equally the providers who have to pay the fines for riders of their shared e-scooters failing to do so.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has gathered national e-scooter rules for 19 member states. This overview shows that none of the Member States require a driver’s license, except Poland for riders under 18. In fact, Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences even explicitly excludes vehicles with a maximum design speed under or equal to 25 km/h. Last month, ETSC has published “Recommendations on Safety of E-scooters”. These recommendations do not include a compulsory moped driving license.
The driving license requirement significantly complicates the management of the sharing system. It also makes the e-scooters much less accessible to users and it discourages tourists in particular from using e-scooters.
The maximum speed for e-scooters in Malta is 20 km/h and the minimum age for riders is 16 years. It seems plausible that any road user at that age knows the Highway Code sufficiently well to travel safely at no more than 20 km/h, without having to obtain a moped licence to do so.
It is bizarre that the Maltese government does not embrace e-scooters as the country suffers from the almost heaviest car ownership and car use in the EU.
A recent study on new mobility patterns in European cities by DG Move has shown that car ownership and car usage in Malta is among the highest in the EU. 22% of the households have 3 or more cars, while 39% have 2 cars. Furthermore, the car has the highest share in the modal split, i.e. 75%, of all countries for which these data are available. For comparison, the share of cars in the German modal split is 57%. Finally, Malta has the second highest number of trips per person per day for short-distance mobility on all days. The study has found that the number of trips is positively correlated with car availability.
The importance of using light electric vehicles is evident from the LEV4Climate report, which LEVA-EU commissioned from DLR last year. This report clearly shows the huge potential of LEVs, including e-scooters, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. LEVs can replace 77% of all car trips according to DLR’s theoretical model, which would result in 44% less CO2 equivalent. The trips for which LEVs replace cars would even save 88% emissions compared to a situation where all trips are done by car.
LEVA-EU therefore believes that e-scooters and other forms of light electric mobility need to be embraced by Maltese authorities. Unfortunately, the contrary appears to be the case. The e-scooter sharing businesses in Malta are currently obstructed by the negative attitude of national authorities to the extent that the companies’ survival is at risk.
On behalf of its member, Seven Group Malta Ltd, LEVA-EU has sent an urgent appeal to the Maltese Minister for Transport, Mr Farugia, to initiate a dialogue with shared e-scooter operators without any further delay. With that, LEVA-EU suggests for Malta to revoke the driver’s license obligation, the disk on the vehicle as proof of the license, as well as to revoke the classification of e-scooters as motor vehicles. Instead, LEVA-EU calls for a consultation with the sharing companies to reach a gentleman’s agreement on parking rules for e-scooters.
The members of the Standing Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Development Planning in the Maltese Parliament as well as the four Maltese Members of the European Parliament, among who the Parliament’s President, Roberta Metsola, have also been called upon to support a constructive dialogue.