Municipalities to decide on electric scooter speed limits

Bolt scooters and electric bicycle.
Bolt scooters and electric bicycle. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Ministry of Economy has finalized amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which, among other things, will give municipalities the right to impose speed limits on electric scooters, specify parking rules and increase the penalties for their use while under the influence of alcohol.

 With the number of accidents involving electric scooter has been increasing rapidly, three options were considered to alleviate the problem. The first would have been the introduction of a nationwide speed limit, while the second option involved two of the leading scooter manufacturers in Estonia, Bolt and Tuul, implementing speed restrictions on their own vehicles.

The third option, which was the one ultimately retained in the draft, and its amendments, provides cities and municipalities with the right to oblige operators to limit the speed of their scooters on a regional and/or temporal basis.

Municipalities will therefore be given the right to impose a speed limit of 15 km/h between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. The current nationwide limit of 25 km/h, while remain in place in those areas where local municipalities does not opt to change it.

Tallinn also wants control over daytime speed limits

Tallinn City Council Chair Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) told ERR, that he believes the new restrictions do not go far enough. "The draft is based on the understanding that during this period, drivers of electric scooters are often drunk, and it is that, which makes them dangerous," said Ossinovski.

"However, the basic issue of pedestrian safety, whereby people feel endangered by scooters traveling at 25 km/h when they are on pavement and in green areas, remains unresolved. This problem does not happen at night, when children and other pedestrians are at home asleep, but specifically during the day," said Ossinovski.

Fines to increase ten-fold

According to the law, cycling and riding mopeds while under the influence of alcohol is currently punishable by a fine of up to €40. However, this appears to have had limited effect on reducing the use of scooters while drunk. Therefore, the explanatory memorandum of the new draft bill states, that fines for drunken scooter use will be raised to €400, bringing them into line with those handed out for driving cars while intoxicated.  

The draft bill also includes the introduction of an alcohol limit for electric scooter users, cyclists, moped riders, with a maximum of 0.50 milligrams of alcohol per gram of blood or 0.25 milligrams per liter of breath, allowed.

Concrete rules related to the parking of light vehicles including bicycles and scooters will also become clearer as a result of the draft bill.

According to a survey commissioned by the Estonian Transport Administration, the use of electric scooters among the general population is on the rise, having increased from 9 percent in 2019 to 27 percent this year.

In the last 12 months, 27 percent of the population, or around 300,000 people, have used electric scooters. This is an increase of five percent compared to last year. This has led to an overall increase in the number of related accidents, two thirds of which have involved rented scooters. Almost three quarters of these however, are so-called 'one-way accidents' or crashes involving a single scooter.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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