From 1 July, new federal laws for the use of e-scooters in Belgium have come into place. The law puts in place several restrictions related to their use, in an effort to address concerns over road safety and hinderance linked to the increasing use of e-scooters.
In addition to the federal rules, the Brussels-Capital Region will be implementing even stricter measures to ensure pedestrians are protected and can move unimpeded.
Like in many place across the EU, e-scooters are becoming an increasingly popular means of transport across Belgium. Their numbers have increased rapidly in cities across Belgium, but so have the concerns over safety and conflicts with pedestrians. According to data collected by the federal police and Vias, e-scooter accidents with casualties tripled compared to last year. In 2021, there were 1022 accidents with casualties, almost three per day.
To address the concerns over e-scooter safety new regulation was required. Georges Gilkinet, Federal Minister of Mobility, explained: "The world has changed and so has our mobility. The electric scooter is now part of our daily life. But with the increase in the number of accidents, sometimes with serious consequences, it was necessary to react. New rules will come into effect from 1 July to better protect scooter users and other road users. Let's strive together for more safety and fewer accidents on our roads. All For Zero".
Under the new rules, users of electric scooters or any other means of motorised transport will be assimilated to cyclists. In effect, e-scooters are no longer allowed to drive on sidewalks and can also be banned from pedestrian areas. In case they are allowed (indicated with a sign), they must move at a walking pace (5 km/h) and always give way to pedestrians.
In addition, the new rules introduce a minimum age requirement. The use of electric scooters is now prohibited for people under the age of 16 (with exception of driving within a few designated areas). Also, riding an e-scooter with two or more persons is now prohibited. Finally, parking rules are introduced, including signage for designated parking areas as well as no-parking zones. In the absence of ad hoc signage, parking on sidewalks remains possible as long as pedestrians and other users are not obstructed.
The new rules set out below apply to all motorised transport vehicles, i.e. all motor vehicles with one wheel or more and whose maximum speed is, by construction, limited to 25 km at time. These are not only electric scooters, but also monowheels, electric skateboards, electric wheelchairs, etc.
Brussels applying stricter rules
The new rules are welcomed. Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, stated: “The new rules provide greater clarity and uniformity, thereby increasing the safety of scooter users and other road users.” Peeters also announced the start of an awareness raising campaign on -e-scooters and the new rules by her Ministry together with the Flemish Traffic Science Foundation (VSV).
The new rules have also been welcomed in the Brussels-Capital Region. At the same time, the Region has introduced additional rules on the use of e-scooters. Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister of Mobility, added: “Electric scooters are a convenient way to get around, as long as they do not hinder pedestrians and people with reduced mobility. That is too often the case now. Thousands of these shared scooters appeared on our streets and it is high time for stricter regulation. In addition to the federal rules, the Brussels-Capital Region decided to automatically limit the speed of scooters in pedestrian zones and to limit the number of scooters per operator.”
According to the Urban Road Safety Index of Cyclomedia, 28% of Brussels inhabitants feel less secure on the street due to a rise in shared mobility vehicles, especially e-scooters.
The maximum speed in the major pedestrian zones is now restricted to 8 km/h. In all other places in the region, the speed of the shared scooters is limited to 20 km/h, a measure that is also intended to protect the scooters themselves.
Bart Dhondt, Mobility Councillor of the City of Brussels, stated: “Parents, their children and people with mobility problems no longer felt comfortable in the pedestrian zone. By ensuring that the shared-use e-scooters can only travel at a walking pace, the pedestrian zone will once again become a space for everyone.”
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