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If you live in Spain, you’ll have seen the rapidly increasing popularity – and speed – of electric scooters. Often, users of electric scooters don’t ride in the road with cars and mopeds, but on the pavement with pedestrians or in bike lines.

Some electric scooters can reach speeds of up to 30km/h and collisions between scooter riders and pedestrians is an increasingly common occurrence in Spain.

In Barcelona, a recent survey reported that 60 percent of scooter riders in the city admitted speeding.

But what’s the law? Can electric scooters legally ride on the pavement? What happens if they do, and what happens if they have an accident?

The law

Simply put: no. According to the Royal Decree 970/2020, which entered into force on January 2nd, 2021, you can’t ride an electric scooter on the pavement. 

As electric scooters are a relatively new phenomenon, in the first couple of years of the craze managed to bypass legislation, but the government eventually caught up and included the electric scooters as part of its ‘Personal Mobility Vehicle’ regulations.

According to the Royal Decree 970/2020, it is forbidden to ride an electric scooter on the pavement, on crossings, highways, intercity roads or tunnels in urban areas.

The decree also states the maximum speed capacity of an electric scooter must be 25 km/h, although it is possible to tinker with the scooter to increase the top speed, something fairly common in Spain. If scooters exceed 25km/h, they are considered motor vehicles and they must comply with the rules of the road.

The exception

The law has just one exception. In pedestrian areas where vehicles can also enter with restrictions – known as Zonas Peatonales Compartidas in Spain – you can drive an electric scooter if you ride at a maximum speed of 10 km/h.

Fines

If you are caught riding an electric scooter on the pavement in Spain you are, in theory, liable to a €200 fine. Whether or not it will be enforced is a different story and depends where in Spain you are (more on that below) and many municipalities offer a 50 percent discount on the fine if you pay it promptly.

However, the fines can add up for more serious offences on scooters. Driving the scooter under the influence of alcohol or drugs can earn you a fine of between €500 and €1,000.

If you use your mobile phone as you’re riding a scooter, you could be fined €200. If you give someone a life, and there’s two of you on the scooter (as is often the case in Spain) you’re liable to a €100 fine and riding an electric scooter at night without lights or reflective clothing can also cost €200.

Fines and punishments for improper scooter use is always handled by the Policía Local, not Policía Nacional or Guardia Civil.

Regional enforcement

That’s the law. In reality however, enforcement is, like many things in Spain, very regional and depends on where you are.

Based on the decree 970/2020, each municipality has its own ordinances that road users must comply with.

Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are the Spanish cities where electric scooters are most popular, and some of its particular regulations are below. 

Madrid

  • Minimum age: 15 years.
  • Allowed on the road, bike lanes, streets in which the maximum speed is 30km/h.
  • Rental scooters must be insured and used with a helmet.

Barcelona

  • Minimum age: 16 years.
  • Allowed on bike paths that cross the pavement and in 30km/h zones.
  • Parking is allowed in certain areas.

Valencia

  • Minimum age: 16 years.
  • Banned on all pavements except on shared pedestrian streets at 10 km/h. Allowed by road by cycle roads, one-way roads and by the road of streets of 30 zones at a maximum speed of 30 km/h.

Crackdown

Despite the ambiguity of the law between places and the confusion about the rules, some parts of Spain are already cracking down on scooter use, and the results suggest it is a problem across the country.

In just one week in Barcelona in 2021, over 1000 fines were given out to scooter riders and thousands of complaints received.

In Jaén last year, local police began a crackdown on improper electric scooter use that seized over 150 in the space of two weeks. 

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, policed handed out 82 fines in just 15 days of enforcement. In the same period, 60 electric scooters were confiscated. 

In Cartagena, Murcia, local media has reported that one in three fines for electric scooter users is for driving in pedestrian areas.

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