The City of Helsinki now has rental electric scooters meant for joint use. Their main idea is to work a little like city bikes. Still, you shouldn’t use them in traffic before you’ve familiarised yourself with how the scooters function - the same goes for other means of transportation.
“It’s great that there are increasingly more convenient ways to move from one place to another. It’s wise to start by familiarising yourself with the scooter in a safe place, where you won’t disrupt other traffic. This gives you certainty that you can, for example, stop the scooter, if needed,” reminds Finnish Road Safety Council’s research manager Juha Valtonen.
The electric scooters that are in use in the City of Helsinki are classified as light electric vehicles in Finland. Their maximum speed cannot be more than 25 km/h. The service supplier has set the maximum speed at 20 km/h.
“When using an electric scooter, you must obey the same traffic rules as a cyclist. Electric scooters must not be driven on sidewalks that are meant for pedestrians. It’s good to protect your head with a helmet, as the rental company instructs,” Valtonen says.
Adjust your speed and pay attention to your surroundings
Electricity moves the scooters almost silently and their speed might come as a surprise to other people on the streets. You need to be careful, for example, when you overtake someone with an electric scooter.
“Situational speed and paying attention to others are important, just as it is with other vehicles. Especially at intersections, you should make sure that you have been seen,” Valtonen points out.
This electric scooter experiment, which might in the future expand to other cities in Finland, differs from the city bike system in that the electric scooters don’t have fixed stations, but they can be left at any appropriate public space.
“You shouldn’t leave the scooter just anywhere. You need to take into account other people and other possible factors so that a parked scooter isn’t an obstacle or doesn’t cause harm,” Valtonen advices.
Electric mobility devices can be divided into three main categories:
- Walking-assisting or -replacing mobility devices such as hoverboards (power max. 1 kW, maximum speed 15 km/h)
- Pedestrian’s traffic rules apply when moving at a pedestrian’s speed
- Light electric vehicles (power max. 1 kW, maximum speed 25 km/h)
- Cyclist’s traffic rules apply, in which you must have a front light when it’s dark outside and a device to give a sound signal
- Motorised bicycles (power max. 250 W/1 kW, maximum speed 25 km/h)
- Same technical regulations and traffic rules as a bicycle, motorised bicycles that don’t necessarily require pedalling (class L1e-A ) need to have vehicle insurance
Remember this about electric mobility vehicles:
- Know what device you’re using - find out the rules, regulations and rights that apply to the vehicle.
- Practise using the device and familiarise yourself with it carefully before going into traffic.
- Remember the right situational speed and pay attention to others in traffic.