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E-Scooters penalised for lack of road infrastructure

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A bill regulating electric scooters has caused a stir in parliament, as it dictates; they are not driven on roads or pavements, with some MPs claiming the legislation essentially bans their use.

As more electric scooters are spotted whizzing through European capitals, this eco-friendly trend has found its way to Cyprus, but not without hurdles to navigate.

The lack of legislation governing their use has led local authorities to demand a legal framework.

However, authorities may have to go back to the drawing board, as MPs find it unrealistic for the island, as the infrastructure does not exist.

If the government bill currently before the parliament is passed, scooters will only be used in bicycle lanes or any other area that constitutes an extension of a bicycle path or space used by cyclists and pedestrians.

Scooters can be used on pavements or squares, provided the local authority has permitted their use in such areas.

Anything that does not conform with the legal definition regarding personal mobility devices, such as hoverboards and skates, will be prohibited in public areas and on roads.

The maximum speed allowed for scooters, according to the bill, is 15 km per hour.

Scooters sold on the market can reach up to 25 km/h. The minimum equipment for scooters are brakes, rear, and front lights, two tyres and a warning bell.

To drive a scooter, one must be at least 16 and wear a crash helmet.

The Green Party argues that the legislation only penalises e-scooter users as the lack of infrastructure would mean that scooter users will have nowhere to ride.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Green Party deputy president Efi Xanthou said the government bill will kill off e-scooters before infrastructure is in place.

“We fail to understand the argument behind having e-scooters essentially only allowed on bicycle lanes when there are few such lanes.

“There are entire municipalities without a single bicycle lane,” said Xanthou.

She argued that scooters could be regulated by the same legislation covering bikes.

“Legislation that took a total of 12 years to adopt. Five years to come up with a bill proposal, and another seven spent in consultations.”

One of the arguments presented by supporters of the government bill for getting scooters off the roads and onto lanes exclusive to bicycles is that electric scooters are silent.

“Well, what are bikes then? Bikes are allowed on roads.

“In an ideal world, scooter users would stick to bicycle lanes on pavements, but this is Cyprus.”

She said that as a keen cyclist herself, she rides her bicycle as often as possible.

“The law says that I have to ride my bike on the road and use bike lanes where available.

“Unfortunately, bike lanes do not exist, and where they do, they are just a part of the road painted green, offering no protection to cyclists”.

Some municipalities have drawn bike lanes on pavements, offering safety to bikers.

Xanthou chooses to ride her bike on pavements, even if no bike lanes are drawn, as she feels safer.

She said people who use e-scooters do so because they are affordable and, on some level, they feel that public transport is not working for them.

“The buses do work for some but not everyone. No one wants to take two hours to get to work by having to catch more than one bus. And not everyone has two euros to spend on every bus ride.

“If the legislation goes ahead as is, we will be penalising scooter users who either by necessity or genuine choice want to protect the environment”.