Mandatory helmets, lower speed limits and a ban in pedestrian areas are among the proposals government is considering as part of an e-scooter crackdown, according to sources close to Transport Malta.
The authority is becoming increasingly frustrated about dangerous riding and is due to hold talks with e-scooter companies and the Malta Insurance Association in the coming weeks.
As summer begins, we are seeing illegalities increase every day
They will be looking for the industry’s say on the three suggestions and the government is open to counter proposals if they achieve the same goal of increasing safety.
But if significant change does not come within the next months, the government will look at introducing harsher measures and may even consider an outright ban on e-scooters, sources said.
“As summer begins, we are seeing illegalities increase every day: dangerous driving, more than one passenger on an e-scooter, badly parked scooters and many other illegalities,” one source said.
Sources close to Transport Malta’s higher echelons said that e-scooters should not have been introduced in Malta in the first place without the necessary infrastructure.
“Operators chose to begin operation in Malta without the infrastructure of parking bays.”
Safety for pedestrians and e-scooter riders has become a growing concern.
Dangers to riders and pedestrians
Last summer, a Turkish national was riding along St George’s Street in St Julian’s when she lost control and fell to the ground, hitting her head.
Like most riders, the 27-year-old was not wearing a helmet at the time. She spent two weeks in intensive care (ITU) at Mater Dei Hospital.
In localities where e-scooter use is most popular, local councils have voiced their concerns over the dangers that riders bring to pedestrians, especially the elderly.
As it stands, e-scooter riders can drive in pedestrian zones, such as the Sliema promenade, at a maximum speed limit of 10km per hour.
Scooter riders can drive up to 20km per hour on roads and need to be at least 16 years old. Helmets are optional. The government is considering either significantly reducing the speed limit or banning scooters outright from promenades and pavements. It is also considering introducing a mandatory helmet rule for e-scooters.
Mandatory parking bays
Transport Malta is currently in the process of introducing mandatory e-scooter parking bays in seven localities.
The parking bays will be part of a system which ensures that anyone leaving an e-scooter abandoned in front of a garage or in the middle of a pavement will continue to be charged until it is parked in a designated spot.
Pedestrians and residents, especially in areas like Sliema and St Julian’s frequently complain about the way e-scooters are parked, blocking pavements, pathways or garage access. A number of accidents involving pedestrians have been reported.
Last April, Paris became the first city to banish for-hire electric scooters from the streets of the French capital after 90 per cent of residents voted against keeping them in the city.
Italy is also on its way to cracking down on e-scooters which will require a registration plate, and owners will need to purchase insurance to use public roads, should draft legislation pass.