Italy cracks down on e-scooters after boy's death

Last year there were 7.4 million rentals and 140,000 e-scooters on the road

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 13, 2019.  People using E-scooters at the Al Wahda mall area, downtown Abu Dhabi. --  Sam's E-scooter has LED lights for night riding safety, he also never rides without a helmet and his Jesus Christ cross.
Victor Besa/The National
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FOR:  Standalone
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Italy is trying to bring in e-scooter laws after the death of a 13-year-old boy.

Among the measures being considered are reduced speed limits and compulsory helmets.

In Italy, the traditional motor scooter is popular among teenagers as a first vehicle and its buzz is loved around Rome and other cities.

The e-scooter brought with it a similar freedom but also a spate of near misses on public squares in cities such as Florence and Milan.

For Italians taking up the ride-sharing e-scooters, usage has soared during 2020.

E-scooter sharing services are producing "unprecedented numbers” of riders as it becomes an ever more popular mode of transport across the country, Italian politicians behind the proposed legislation said.

The teenager who died suffered head injuries in an accident in Sesto San Giovanni, northern Italy, where mayor Roberto Di Stefano reacted by cutting speed limits to 20kph on bicycle paths and 5kph in pedestrianised areas.

The death prompted the drawing up of four bills, going before national politicians, looking to reduce speeds and add restrictions on e-scooter use.

There would be a 20kph speed limit on cycle paths and 30kph on urban roads.

In pedestrianised areas, a maximum of 6kph would be imposed, which the scooter companies suggest is too low for safe use.

Riders would also need, for the first time, to wear helmets. A ban on riding in the evening, from after sunset, could be implemented as well as fines for non-compliance.

Pavements would be off limits and e-scooters would need to be carried by hand. Rules for parking are also proposed, similar to parking fines in place for traditional scooters and motorcycles. E-scooters would also have to be parked in designated places.

Children would be banned from riding the e-scooters.

E-scooters of California-based bicycle service Lime are pictured by the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

E-scooters are growing in popularity across Europe and the Middle East but they have really taken off in Italy where the scooter is a rite of passage.

Last year, there were 7.4 million rentals in the country, with the average journey lasting 12 minutes and covering 1.1 miles, the National Observatory on Sharing Mobility said.

There are at least 140,000 e-scooters on the road in the country and one in every three shared-vehicle trips is by e-scooter, supporters of the law said.

Italian lawmakers say they want to provide a framework of rules.

From December 1, Florence plans to introduce a compulsory helmet requirement for e-scooter riders, Mayor Dario Nardella said.

Meanwhile, across Europe, politicians are grappling with the new mode of transport.

In London, e-scooters can be rented as part of a trial scheme but the use of the privately owned vehicles is mostly illegal.

The trial includes speed limits of 25kph and the e-scooters are prohibited from pavements.

In Germany, riders need a moped licence.

In France, new laws were introduced after a number of riders died in accidents. Now, users must be 12 or older and adhere to a 25kph speed limit.

Riding on pavements is banned and travelling on some roads requires high-vis clothing and a helmet.

Updated: September 01, 2021, 3:26 PM