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The electric scooter: what it is and the regulations governing its use

Electric scooters have come to our cities to stay and can be the ideal complement to other means of transport to advance electric mobility. Here we explain how the use of electric scooters is governed.

Sometimes we tend to use our cars or motorcycles for many journeys even though we are only travelling short distances or parking is difficult. Walking, public transport, cycling and travel by electric scooter are some of the alternatives to the use of personal vehicles that are gaining in popularity.

 

What is an electric scooter?

An electric scooter is a type of scooter propelled by an electric motor. It is intended for short trips and is driven on foot. Unlike traditional scooters, there is no need for the user to propel themself constantly.

It is a relatively new form of transport with a great future ahead. Use of electric scooters is growing, which means that many people don't need to use their cars for short journeys. In addition, it is very cheap to recharge an electric scooter.

 

DGT classification of electric scooters

The Spanish traffic directorate (DGT) classifies electric scooters as personal mobility vehicles or PMVs and they are governed by the regulations for this type of transport. Only scooters with a maximum speed of less than 6km/h are considered recreational vehicles or toys and do not need to meet this requirement.

This DGT regulation establishes two different categories for electric scooters.

 

Type A Scooters

One-or two-wheeled motorised scooters with maximum speeds of 20 km/h. They cannot exceed 25 kg in weight and can only be used by one person. This category includes unicycles, electric scooters, skateboards or electric skateboards and hoverboards.

 

Type B scooters

Scooters capable of achieving a speed of 30 km/h, weighing up to 50 kilos and with a maximum of one person on board. This classification includes segways,  more powerful electric scooters and models with seats.

 

Regulation of electric scooters

The regulations governing the use of electric scooters apply throughout Spain. However, local councils have the power to establish additional measures for electric scooter use within the municipal area.

 

You do not need a registration document

Electric scooters are classified as PMVs (personal mobility vehicles) and not as motor vehicles, so at the moment you do not require a registration document.

 

The maximum speed is 25 km/h

The maximum permitted speed for electric scooters is 25 km/h. Although type B scooters or other models can reach higher speeds, exceeding the speed limit can result in fines of €500 and confiscation of the scooter.

 

Electric scooters do not need to be insured

At the moment scooters, unlike others vehicles such as cars, do not need to be insured. Third-party insurance is not necessary because they are considered to be PMVs and not motor vehicles. However, the DGT recommends third-party liability insurance for owners of electric scooters which covers damage to property and third parties in the event of an accident.

According to the director of the DGT, Pepe Navarro Olivella, this regulation governing electric scooters is sure to change very soon, with insurance for this type of vehicle becoming mandatory, in line with practice in other countries such as France.  

Currently we can also find different local regulations governing electric scooter use. Cities such as Barcelona, Benidorm and Alicante, for example, do require electric scooter users to have insurance.

 

Electric scooter users must wear a helmet

Under the new Traffic, Motor Vehicle Circulation and Road Safety Law, helmets must be worn on electric scooters and other types of personal mobility vehicles.

Although use of a helmet has until now only been mandatory on type-B electric scooters, following the enactment of the new law mandatory use has also been extended to type A models.

 

Mandatory use of lights at night

While almost all electric scooter models already incorporate them, lights must be used at night or in low visibility conditions.

Lights must comply with the general traffic regulations, with scooters having a white front light and a red rear light.

 

Where are electric scooters allowed to circulate?

Electric scooters can use the bicycle lane and go on roads and lanes with a 30 km per hour speed limit, the so-called "restricted lanes". They can also use pedestrianised areas provided this is expressly allowed by the City Council.

With the new traffic regulations, users of electric scooters are prohibited from using the pavement, inter-city main roads, crossings, dual carriageways and motorways and interurban tunnels.

Local municipal authorities are responsible for restricting the use of scooters in pedestrianised areas so you are advised to find out about the regulations corresponding to your area. City Councils in places such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia have more restrictive rules for this type of vehicle.

 

How does an electric scooter work?

Scooters are powered by an electric motor fed by rechargeable batteries which transfers movement, generally to the rear wheel, thanks to transmission. The rear wheel is connected to the handlebars and enables us to control the direction of the scooter.

Depending on the type of motor and transmission we have different types of electric scooters.

 

Different types of electric scooter motors

  • Brushed motor: the brushes make an electric connection between the fixed and the mobile part, or rotor, of the motor, which enables movement to be transferred.
  • Brushless motor: brushless scooter motors are more efficient, have more power, require less maintenance and are also much quieter.

 

Different transmission classes on electric scooters

When it comes to transmission systems, there are three different options: belt, chain and direct.

  • The belt drive transmission system is the most commonly found system on low- and mid-range scooters. They require very little maintenanceand are economical and fairly robust.
  • The chain drive system is what we find on higher quality scooters and is very strong.
  • The direct transmission system is less common because it is very expensive and difficult to repair. However, it is the most reliable of the three.

Scooters also have a shock absorber system. This is usually a coil spring system. This shock absorber system is usually a front and rear system. This means the scooter's shock absorption will usually be reliable and any kind of sudden sensation will be reduced when the scooter is being used.

 

Types of electric scooters

Within personal mobility vehicles or PMVs we can find different types of electric scooters. Although they all operate with an electric motor propelled by rechargeable batteries, they are driven in a slightly different way.

 

1. Two-wheeled electric scooter

This is the type of scooter most commonly seen on the streets. A few years ago the scooter was a toy used by children to travel short distances. These vehicles have now evolved to such an extent that many adults use them to travel to work. Most of these scooters have a range of between 25 and 40 km.

 

2. Electric unicycle

These scooters have a single wheel. Our feet will be on either side of this wheel on two lateral footrests. This type of electric scooter requires greater expertise than the two-wheeled scooter since the driver must have complete control of their balance at all times to move forward.

 

3. Segway

One of the most striking vehicles on this list. You're bound to have seen them in shopping centres. They are often used by employees of these spaces to move around quickly. And for some time now they have also been used  by tourists. They are very  comfortable and safe thanks to the two wheels, which are larger than those on conventional scooters, and the platforms for the user's feet.

 

4. Hoverboard

A hoverboard is driven in much the same way as a segway, with a platform for the user's feet and the wheels on either side. Although there are no handlebars, they are very intuitive to control and much easier to drive than may appear to be the case at first glance. However, great care must be taken when setting off on a journey and dismounting. It is advisable to avoid outdoor use given the unevenness of the terrain and to not exceed a speed of 15 km/h.

 

5. Electric skateboard

Skateboarding aficionados also have the option of travelling on an electric version. It is heavier than a conventional board because it has a sizeable external motor. The starting speed is also faster than with other systems so an electric skateboard requires a little more skill to control.

 

Advantages of using an electric scooter

Thanks to these vehicles, we can travel medium and short distances at moderate speeds in towns and cities. It's a perfect alternative if we don't want to use our car and walking isn't an option.

One of the main advantages of electric scooters is how easy they are to drive. They are also becoming better adapted to unforeseen circumstances such as weather conditions. Their wheels are of higher quality and can cope with wet terrain following rain.

Another key advantage of electric scooters is that they are a far more environment-friendly alternative for transport within towns and cities.

In addition, technical advances mean that are becoming more and more autonomous and faster to charge. At present it takes on average between four and eight hours to fully charge the batteries.

If you are a regular user of an electric scooter we recommend tariffs that give you free hours of daily electricity consumption. For example, the 2-Hour Happy Hour Tariff which allows you to choose two consecutive hours of the day when your electricity is free.

If you concentrate your electricity consumption during certain hours you can take advantage of these hours to charge the batteries of your electric scooter. This means you save on your bill while joining the ranks of those using a more sustainable form of transport.

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