Madrid, Jan 2 (EFE) .- Ignorance is the word that defines the entry into force of the rule that already forces electric scooters to go on the road, which this morning were still circulating on the sidewalks of the center of Madrid. Pedestrians and taxi drivers have different opinions, although they agree that the ideal would be for these vehicles to be on the bike lane.
This Saturday the new regulations for drivers of Personal Mobility Vehicles, such as electric scooters, which cannot circulate on sidewalks or pedestrian areas or exceed 25 kilometers per hour, have come into force.
In addition, their drivers must comply with traffic regulations and therefore may be subjected to the breathalyzer and drug detection tests. They cannot wear headphones, or use a mobile phone or any other device while driving, according to the General Directorate of Traffic.
But this new rule still seems quite unknown: by midmorning few electric scooters were circulating around the central Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid, and most of them – approximately eighty percent of those recorded by Efe – were on the sidewalk.
Its drivers, mostly without helmets or reflective clothing, have not made any statements.
It is just a “still photo” of the first hours of a rule that tries to respond to a clear reality: the large increase in citizens using personal mobility vehicles, which has led many companies to manage their rental in cities such as Madrid.
This is how the president of the DIA victims’ association, Francisco Canes, reminds Efe, who values the new regulations to guarantee the safety of scooter drivers and pedestrians, and believes that the next step has to be mandatory insurance in case there is an accident.
He argues that the use of personal mobility vehicles will continue to grow in Spain because they are easy to use and not polluting in a climate that is usually conducive to their use: hence the need to regulate it.
Several pedestrians consulted by Efe congratulate themselves for not having to share the sidewalk with electric scooters, although they acknowledge that they have not had problems with any driver of these vehicles and that their integrity must be protected if they go on the road with cars.
For Luis, of advanced age, the new regulation is “a good measure especially for the elderly”, who believes that they will feel “safer”.
Belén, a teenager with a skateboard in hand who goes to Retiro to practice, also values the new regulation because some scooters go “quite fast” on the sidewalk and “older people get scared”, and believes that their drivers should wear a helmet and other measures safety to avoid accidents on the road.
Violeta, a mother of three young children, believes that the key lies in the responsibility of the scooter users: “It depends on who is driving, there are people who are very careful and go well on the sidewalk, no problem, but there are people who go like crazy”.
In his opinion, it should be borne in mind that if the scooters go between the cars within 25 kilometers “they may want to avoid them”, so ideally they should circulate on the bike lane or a similar, limited area.
At this point, one of the taxi drivers consulted, Julián, agrees that from the taxi rank on Serrano street, next to the Puerta de Alcalá, he points out the bike lane as the ideal place for scooters, since on the road they can “annoy” because “they are quite uncivil”.
For this taxi driver -who, like the rest consulted, does know about the new standard- electric scooters should carry a number similar to that of a license plate to be identified when their drivers commit recklessness.
Javier, also waiting for customers at the taxi rank, agrees to keep scooters off the sidewalks “because they can run over older people”, and considers that the ideal is for them to go on the bike lane or on the road but well protected, with a helmet and reflective clothing because “at night they are hardly seen.”
He maintains, like his colleague Julián, that from the taxi he sees scooter drivers committing reckless acts such as “going in any lane and skipping traffic lights”, and he hopes that this will change because “we are going to have to live with them.”
On the possibility that they have to have insurance, Javier is totally in favor: “If not, let’s see who will take charge if there is an accident.”
In any case, from now on it will be the municipal police who are in charge of surveillance and control and those who, with their municipalities, establish priorities when sanctioning some behaviors or others.
The regulation of the scooter is part of a package of legal reforms, approved by the Government on November 10, the objective of which is to generate a new model of road safety that allows a 50 percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries during the next decade.
By Fran Gallego