By Elias Hazou and Jonathan Shkurko
Members of the House transport committee on Thursday called on the government to work on regulating the use of personal mobility vehicles in Cyprus, most notably electric scooters.
A scooter is any self-propelled device using any form of energy, which can carry a seated or standing person. The device has handlebars, a drive shaft, and at least two wheels.
The topic of the committee was road safety and Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos was present during the discussions.
The government bill governing the use of scooters or e-scooters is an interim arrangement, in anticipation of an EU directive regulating the matter.
It provides that scooters can be used only in bicycle paths or bicycle lanes, or in a space that is an extension of a bicycle lane – such as a communal area used by cyclists and pedestrians, or in a square or sidewalk following a decision by the local municipality or local authority.
Operators must be 16 years old and over, and must wear a helmet. At a minimum, a scooter must have a breaking system, lights in front and in the back, a bell, and tyres. The maximum allowable speed is 15 km per hour.
The bill also includes regulations for importers and traders of scooters – again relating to scooters’ technical specifications, as well as regulations governing the licensing of scooter rentals.
Additionally, the proposed legislation spells out the offences and the related penalties.
Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel called the proposed legislation a step in the right direction. But certain concerns remained – such as that there exists no requirement to register these devices, which could lead to unchecked imports.
For her part, Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said the aim was to find ways to tackle road accidents on the island.
“Personal mobility vehicles were firstly introduced as recreation vehicles, but, due to their growing popularity, they are now increasingly used as proper means of transport.
“This development forces us to plan for their regulation, taking into account various parameters, based on road safety, mobility, but also urban planning, traffic and other data,” Tsiridou said.
According to her, three bills regarding road safety have also been submitted to the transport ministry.
The first one concerns the regulation of the circulation of bicycles, with emphasis of who can ride them and where.
The second one aims at regulating the settling of out-of-court fines for motorists caught breaking road safety rules, while the third one proposes the ban on circulation of personal mobility vehicles on roads.
In addition to the three bills, the committee discussed amending the law on the driver’s license.
“Based on a study carried out by the EU on the cost of motorcycle accidents in each country in relation to the social and economic impact, it emerged that the yearly cost for Cyprus is €250 million,” Tsiridou said.
The amendment will propose a time limit on a learner’s permit, the expiry of which will force the driver to retake the exam in order to obtain it again.
The proposed bill will also deem it mandatory for all motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet and protective equipment.
Employers of delivery drivers, mostly working on mopeds, will have to provide them with helmets and protective gear.