The start of the European Mobility Week on 16 September is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with other more sustainable means of transport than the car. In that framework, the Flemish Radio 2 program “De Inspecteur” (The Inspector) interviewed LEVA-EU Manager, Annick Roetynck and Stef Willems (VIAS) about electric scooters with a saddle.
“It’s complicated,” says Stef Willems of VIAS. “But the bottom line is that an e-scooter with a saddle is considered a moped in our country according to European and Belgian legislation. So, the only way to legally go on the road is with a number plate and helmet. You can in no way consider that vehicle as a regular e-scooter according to the law.”
The police can fine you if you drive around with such a scooter without a number plate, or even confiscate your scooter, Willems warns. “The problem is that the people who buy e-scooters with saddles assume these are regular e-scooters, which allow them to go anywhere with them on the road. I have noticed that the sellers often do not clearly indicate that they are actually buying a moped.”
Illegal e-scooters for sale
We have seen that non-type-approved e-scooters are for sale on bol.com, says Willems. “Because they are not type-approved, you are under no circumstances allowed on public roads in Belgium. There is no certificate of conformity, so you can’t apply for a number plate. You can only drive around with it in your garden for instance. But the sellers don’t mention that.”
There are also saddles for sale which you can mount on your e-scooter yourself, but that is not allowed either. “If you mount that saddle on your scooter, you are also not allowed on public roads, because here too you are in breach of European regulations.”
Bol.com takes illegal steps offline
At bol.com, they did not know that e-scooters with saddle are illegal, despite the fact that LEVA-EU had sent them a reasoned warning more than a year ago. The enquiry by the Flemish radio programme “De Inspecteur”, convinces them to take immediate action. Tamara Vlootman tells “De Inspecteur”: “Our quality team will investigate this. Until then, we have taken the articles offline as a precaution. We will now look further into how we are going to approach that, maybe we will add a clear warning label.”
Sellers be warned
“We inform the companies about the correct legislation. It is all very complex but we call for the law to be respected,” says Annick Roetynck, from LEVA-EU, the professional association for light electric vehicles in Europe.
“Some sellers actually don’t know the law; others choose not to know the law. They sometimes have the customers sign a paper to acknowledge that the e-scooters they are buying are not allowed on public roads. If an accident were to happen, they will not be able to avoid their liability.”
Annick Roetynck does not agree with the law at all. “The laws were made long ago, when there were only cars, motorcycles and mopeds with fossil fuels, but not with new vehicles in mind. That’s why you get strange situations for no reason, because an e-scooter with a saddle is largely the same as an e-scooter without a saddle. There is no justification for submitting them to two completely different legal frameworks.”
That is why she hopes that the legislation will be changed: “Personally, I have been working for more than 20 years for accurate legislation for LEVS such as e-scooters with or without saddle but also electric bicycles-without pedals for instance. They all have a role to play in making mobility more sustainable. They have great potential in decarbonizing mobility in the fight against climate change. There is some good news: the European Commission has recognized that the legislation needs to be improved and we hope it to be amended within 2 or 3 years.”
The radio-interview with Annick Roetynck is here: https://radio2.be/luister/select/de-inspecteur/sommige-elektrische-steps-zijn-illegaal-als-je-er-een-ongeval-mee-hebt-is-de-verkoper-mee-verantwoordelijk