The article below is from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in Germany. They have spent a great deal of time considering how to incorporate Personal Light Electric Vehicle’s into their existing infrastructure. Their approach is likely to be mirrored by the UK in the not too distant future, so it is worth reading and understanding the information below if you are considering a PLEV as a transport option. It is also worth mentioning that electric skateboards, unicycles and hoverboards will NOT comply with the laws.
“When we talk about micro mobility, we are referring to smaller vehicles with electric drivetrains, such as electric scooters (e-scooters), Segways, but also to hoverboards and e-skateboards. They are referred to by the term “Personal Light Electric Vehicles”.
These vehicles are battery-driven and thus emit zero emissions. Many of these vehicles are so special because they are very small and lightweight, which makes them foldable and portable. These features allow the user to take the vehicles on public transport, which is why they have a special added value with regard to linking different means of transport and to covering short distances in particular (last mile mobility).
With the entry into force of the Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles on 15 June 2019, the foundations have been laid to allow the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles with a handlebar on public roads.
We thereby want to allow for new forms of modern, environmentally-friendly and clean mobility in our cities, while at the same time ensuring safety on our roads.
Below, you can find the most important questions and answers concerning Personal Light Electric Vehicles.
Why do we need national regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles?
At the European level, the new Type Approval Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 for two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles has applied since January 2016. Self-balancing vehicles and vehicles without a seat are explicitly excluded from the scope of application of this regulation.
To date, only specific self-balancing mobility aids, for example Segways, could be legally operated on public roads in Germany in accordance with the Mobility Aid Regulations (in German). Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has created the Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles to enable the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles in public road transport, no matter what the vehicle type is.
What are the key elements of the new Regulations?
All Personal Light Electric Vehicles with the following features will be able to use the roads:
- with a handlebar
- maximum design speed between 6 kph and 20 kph
- power limitation at 500 W (1,400 W for specific self-balancing vehicles)
- minimum requirements concerning road safety rules (brake and lighting systems, dynamics of vehicle movements and electric safety, among other things)
Where am I allowed to use Personal Light Electric Vehicles?
If there is a physically separated cycle track or a cycle lane, Personal Light Electric Vehicles must use it. This applies regardless of whether use of the cycle track or lane is mandatory for cyclists or not. If there are no physically separated cycle tracks or cycle lanes, Personal Light Electric Vehicles can also be used on the carriageway. The rules of the road that apply to Personal Light Electric Vehicles thus differ here from the rules of the road for bicycles.
Will I need a driving licence?
No. No driving licence obligation or obligation to carry a test certificate for motor-assisted bicycles is planned.
What is the minimum age?
Personal Light Electric Vehicles can be used from the age of 14 years and above.
Will I have to insure my Personal Light Electric Vehicle?
Yes. Personal Light Electric Vehicles are motor vehicles and thus have to be insured. Due to their small size and special design features, the introduction of a small insurance sticker is planned for these vehicles.
What is the difference between Personal Light Electric Vehicles and pedelecs and S-Pedelecs or light motor-assisted bicycles?
Pedelecs are vehicles with an electric auxiliary drivetrain whose supporting function decreases progressively with increasing speed. This means that as soon as a speed of 25 kph has been reached or the rider has stopped pedalling, the auxiliary drivetrain automatically stops. Thus, the distinguishing feature of a pedelec is its motor, which only adds to the muscle power of the riders and supports them. The rules that apply to bicycles also apply to these vehicles.
S-Pedelecs are vehicles with an electric auxiliary drivetrain that can reach a speed of up to 45 kph, when muscle and motor power are combined, and are therefore classified as mopeds. Their riders are obliged to wear a helmet, to have their vehicle insured and to use the roads.
In this respect, Personal Light Electric Vehicles are a new vehicle category, because they are only powered by their electric motor.
What about Personal Light Electric Vehicles that can travel faster than 20 kph?
Currently, the use of public roads by such vehicles is not planned.
What rules apply to Personal Light Electric Vehicles in other EU countries?
Since there is no harmonised European framework, the requirements to be met by Personal Light Electric Vehicles differ between the EU countries. Some countries have not regulated the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles on public roads or have even ruled out doing so entirely. The majority of countries do have corresponding regulations. They usually include a speed limit for Personal Light Electric Vehicles of 20 to 25 kph. There are also different approaches concerning usable traffic spaces.
What rules apply to already licensed Personal Light Electric Vehicles (e.g. Segways)?
The Mobility Aid Regulations are to be replaced by the new Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles. However, the approvals issued under these Regulations will remain valid. As soon as the new Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles enter into force, the rules included in them will also apply to the already licensed vehicles.
Can vehicles which are offered for sale but do not comply with the requirements set out in the Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles be retrofitted.
Now that the Regulations have entered into force, vehicle manufacturers whose vehicles comply with the requirements set out in the Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles can apply for a general type approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority.
Vehicles that have already been placed on the market and do not comply with the Regulations can be retrofitted by manufacturers so that they meet the requirements set out in the new Regulations.
Owners of vehicles that comply with the Regulations but are not subsequently provided with a general type approval by the manufacturer can place them on the market with an individual operating permit if they meet the relevant technical requirements.
Can Personal Light Electric Vehicles be carried on public transport?
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure supports the carriage of Personal Light Electric Vehicles on public transport, however it cannot make it obligatory. The respective transport operator will decide on its conditions of carriage.
In general, the rules on the carriage of objects on local public transport apply. Details can be found in Section 11 of the Regulations on the General Conditions of Carriage for Tram and Trolleybus Services and Regular Motor Vehicle Services and, if appropriate, the special conditions of carriage of the respective transport operator. Rules on carriage by railway undertakings might also be found in the special conditions of carriage of the transport operator.
Are other road users safe?
The Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles ensure a balanced solution for the introduction of new forms of mobility on the one hand and the guarantee of road safety on the other hand. This applies to all road users. In addition, the implementation of the Regulations on Personal Light Electric Vehicles is being scientifically monitored and evaluated by the Federal Highway Research Institute.
Can Personal Light Electric Vehicles be parked on the footway when their motor has been switched off?
No, even if the motor has been switched off, they can only be parked on designated traffic spaces. It is not possible to change vehicle categories while riding, for example by switching off the motor.”