Love them or loath them, electric scooters have already become part of the urban fabric, an economical micro mobility solution to getting around towns and cities, but just like any other vehicle, which these scooters are, there are rules that must be followed in Spain.
Some of these rules are requirements are apparently not realised by some of the users of these scooters, but there are many more who want to know the rules, and so we will answer some of the most common questions about electric scooters.
What is a VMP?
We are talking about electric scooters, purely for the ease of description, but in actual fact the rules we are describing refer to all devices which fall into the category of VMP. A VMP is a vehículos de movilidad personal, or personal mobility vehicle. To avoid doubts, mobility scooters used by those who have mobility problems do not fall into this category.
The Director General of Traffic (DGT) also advises us that as of 22 January 2024, all VMPs that are marketed must be certified for use. Until this date it will be possible to circulate even if it is not available. Braking systems, reflectors, acoustic warning device, wheels or identification holder are some of the elements that are regulated in the manual. According to various estimates, there are about 1 million personal mobility vehicles in Spain. In 2020, 8 users of personal mobility vehicles died, 97 were hospitalised injured and 1,097 were non-hospitalised injured.
As already reflected in RD 970/2020, of November 10, which modifies the General Circulation Regulations, approved by Royal Decree 1428/2003, of November 21 and the General Vehicle Regulations, a Vehículo de Movilidad Personal (VMP) is a one or more wheeled vehicle for single-person use and propelled exclusively by electric motors (batteries up to 100 VDC and with an integrated charger up to 240 VAC input) that can provide the vehicle with a maximum speed by design between 6 and 25 km/h and that can only be equipped with a seat or saddle if they are equipped with self-balancing systems.
This definition excludes vehicles for people with reduced mobility, toys, EPACs (electrically assisted bicycles) and those vehicles typified as “L” according to EU Regulation 168/2013.
The VMPs, being self-propelled exclusively by electric motor, correspond to the ZERO emissions environmental classification and are exempt from displaying the environmental badge.
There are other technical characteristics that your VMP must have. We will deal with those in more details another time.
For the purpose of simplicity, we will continue to talk about electric scooters in this article, but we refer to all vehicles which fall into the category of VMP as described.
Can I ride an electric scooter on the pavement?
No, it is absolutely forbidden to drive an electric scooter on the pavement. In fact, it is forbidden in all pedestrian places, so as well as pavements it includes walkways, plazas and the like, and pedestrian crossings (unless passing them as a vehicle on the road). Electric scooters are only permitted on the road, and on bike lanes. On streets shared by vehicles and people, you are permitted to ride, but adapting the speed to a maximum of 10 km/h and always giving priority to pedestrians.
Why does the scooter not exceed 25 km/h?
Not because your scooter is defective, but because Spanish regulations, in line with the rest of Europe, determine that this is the maximum speed to circulate. If an electric scooter reaches a higher speed, it would no longer be a VMP, but a vehicle such as a moped for example. Some scooters can be adapted to achieve higher speeds, but this is not permitted.
Do I need to have insurance?
Spanish legislation does not (currently) oblige the user of an electric scooter to take out insurance, therefore, driving without insurance does not imply any type of infraction. However, it is always recommended that you take out insurance, since the price of insurance is relatively cheap, and will cover civil liability, and, optionally, theft. In the event that you are in collision with a car or another road user, the insurance will take care of the damage or injury. If you do not have insurance, you can be denounced by civil means and can find yourself in court, facing a bill for any damage caused, and the subsequent costs of the case. It is most likely that in the near future it will be mandatory for you to take out insurance if you use an electric scooter.
Can I carry a passenger on the scooter?
No. Absolutely not. They are mono personal use vehicles, therefore, you cannot carry anyone else on the scooter. This is a very dangerous, punishable activity that can cause serious injury in the event of an incident. For your sake and that of the people you love, do not take anyone on the scooter.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
The chances of falling to the ground with your scooter are relatively high, and the impact of the head can be fatal. You have good quality helmets from €40 in any online or physical store.
The recent Traffic Law establishes the obligation for VMP drivers to use a protective helmet, in the terms determined by regulation. The DGT is already working on this regulatory development together with the municipalities and with the actors involved.
Can I go to the next town?
No, the electric scooter is a means of transport for urban use. They are not permitted on interurban roads.
Where else can I not drive my electric scooter?
Apart from pavements, you cannot go through an underground tunnel with the electric scooter.
Are there any other laws for electric scooters?
Yes, there are many, because as your electric scooter is driven on the road, you and your VMP must abide by all relevant traffic laws. That means things like stopping at red lights, not driving the wrong was down a one-way street, giving way to pedestrians at crossings, not cutting across lanes at roundabouts, stopping or giving way at junctions. The list can go on, but hopefully you get the point, the rules apply to electric scooter users as well as other road users, which, by the way, also includes the rules on not wearing headphones or using a mobile phone, and the rules for alcohol and drugs, although in the case of younger drivers, the alcohol limit is zero.