State wants to increase safety for vulnerable road users

An example of some not-so-great e-scooter parking.
An example of some not-so-great e-scooter parking. Source: Mait Ots / ERR

The environment ministry has proposed a regulation governing the halting of motor vehicles on sidewalks, the speed and parking requirements for light cyclists, and the secure lateral distance. The penalties for drivers who illegally park their vehicles would increase.

Climate Minister Kristen Michal (Reform) said that the changes aim to increase safety for unprotected road users, and create clearer rules for the use of personal light (electric) vehicles.

"The proposed draft includes rules to ensure that e-scooters can be parked appropriately on the street and that the municipality can designate protected zones with reduced speed limits. Importantly, cars can no longer halt on the footpath without an appropriate stop sign; the footpath remains for pedestrians, while cars remain on the road. To enhance road safety, we are establishing a rule requiring motor vehicles to pass cyclists at a distance of 1.5 meters, as is the case in many other European nations," Michal said.

Henceforth, stopping on pavements, footpaths and cycle paths will not be allowed unless the parking or stopping places are marked by a traffic control device. Up to now, the principle applied that a vehicle could stop on the pavement to load goods even if there were no traffic management prerequisites. Stopping and parking places for loading goods, marked with appropriate traffic management equipment, can be organized by the local authority, the landowner, a company or, for example, a housing association.

Parking rules will be made more precise for personal light (electric) vehicles. The cycle path must now be situated parallel to the road's edge and, if there are no obstructions, within 0.2 meters of its edge. A 1.5-meter "passing zone" must also be maintained; when parking light vehicles on the roadside, at least a 1.5-meter-wide section of road must be kept free for other road users.

In order to discourage parking violations, the maximum fines for halting and parking violations will increase from €40 to €80 for general proceedings and from €20 to €40 for written warnings. If the offense poses a danger to other road users or seriously disrupts traffic, the penalty is increased from €40 to €60 for short proceedings and €60 for written warnings.

A local authority may impose economic activity requirements for the rental or leasing of personal light (electric) vehicles, mini-motorcycles and bicycles in order to ensure the protection of persons, property and the environment. This entails the authority to impose parking restrictions on these vehicles and to establish protected zones where vehicle speeds must be restricted.

The overwhelming majority of accidents have been caused by rented light electric vehicles; cooperation between the municipality and the renters improves road safety. The new regulation also seeks to make traffic safer for cyclists, mini-moped and self-balancing vehicle drivers by mandating a minimum passing distance of 1.5 meters.

The changes, which include a ban on stopping on the pavement and a 1.5 meter lateral clearance, are due to come into force from 2025. This will allow road users to adapt, local governments, businesses and housing associations, for example, to organize loading stops, and public authorities to provide the necessary information.

The draft is open for comments and coordination until the end of August, after which the transport policy division of the Ministry of Climate will review the proposals and determine whether the draft should be amended and how to proceed.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Kristina Kersa

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