Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: April 29, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini
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Prohibitions in eMobility: How to avoid an expanding trend?

In early 2023, Catalonia banned the use of electric scooters in public transport, a measure that Renfe recently also adopted due to fires caused by these vehicles. Álvaro Rodríguez from FREENOW analyzes the drawbacks of this measure for Mobility Portal España.
Álvaro Rodríguez, Senior Public Affairs Manager at FREENOW.

“I am concerned that electric scooters are being demonized without justification,” says Álvaro Rodríguez, Senior Public Affairs Manager at FREENOW, to Mobility Portal España.

In 2022, a fire caused by the explosion of an electric scooter battery in a FGC train in Sant Boi de Llobregat led Catalonia to prohibit both the access to vehicles and the infrastructure of public transport.

At the time, the reason for this restriction was explained as “the potential danger posed by this mobility in closed environments.”

Renfe recently joined this measure by banning electric scooters from all passenger trains starting from December 12th.

The reason was similarly based on the danger posed by battery fires reported in some public transport vehicles.

This not only affects eScooters, but also unicycles or any other personal eMobility device equipped with batteries, with the exception of those for people with reduced mobility and electric bicycles.

Regarding this, Rodríguez points out: “The problem is not the scooter, but the incorrect handling of a lithium-ion battery.”

This indicates that not only vehicles have batteries that may have been altered, but it can also happen with devices such as mobile phones or laptops.

“We allow some and not others. It would make sense to focus on safety and certification for all equally,” he emphasizes.

And he adds: “Fortunately, this precautionary measure was accompanied by a message indicating that they would sit down to analyze the problem, and I consider it important not to make the innocent pay for the guilty.”

In this sense, he emphasizes the need to distinguish between certified vehicles, considered safe, and those that are not.

Recently, the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) established regulations to regulate Personal Mobility Vehicles (PMV).

Since January of this year, it is prohibited to market electric scooters that do not comply with the quality and safety standards set by the January 2022 Resolution.

In this way, all PMVs that are sold now require a circulation certificate and an identification, which guarantees compliance with the technical requirements imposed by the DGT.

Previous PMVs can continue to circulate until January 22, 2027.

The aim is that by that year, all scooters circulating in the national territory comply with the highest safety standards that technology allows today.

Not only that, but PMVs will also have to undergo a Vehicle Technical Inspection (VTI) that will consist of more than 30 inspection points.

Among them, the battery stands out, checking for impacts, the presence of a spare battery, and its voltage.

“I consider it a very positive tool. We must tackle the problem, tackle manipulation, and offer solutions, because indeed shared and decarbonized mobility will always be the best option,” says Rodríguez.

According to the Business Association for the Development and Promotion of Electric Mobility (AEDIVE in Spanish), service-based mobility continues to grow every year.

Currently, more than one million people use the more than 22,000 bicycles and 18,000 electric scooters deployed throughout Spain.

According to the organization, while shared bicycles are increasingly conquering cities, the implementation of shared electric scooters is a much more complex challenge.

This is due to the lack of common road safety rules in all municipalities and the lack of knowledge by municipal authorities on how to implement this service safely and efficiently.

As well as the bad press and infodemic surrounding this means of transportation.

An example of this is Barcelona, which has banned the implementation of shared eScooters in the city.

The main reason has been the tension that these vehicles generate in public spaces, such as sidewalks and squares, as well as a concern related to road safety.

“This is another issue that is pending, but the properly used scooter, far from being a problem, is a magnificent solution,” emphasizes Álvaro Rodríguez.

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