Having an alternate means of transport other than a massive gas-guzzling car that’ll only ever serve you and maybe one more person is awesome… but not if the laws meant to encourage you to switch end up having the reverse effect.
That’s exactly what independent MPs Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia are currently arguing, even going so far as to file a Parliamentary motion yesterday on the topic. In the motion, the Farrugias are requesting a revision to last month’s legal notice governing electric scooter use in Malta.
Hailed by many as a tad too restrictive, the December 2019 legal notice regarding Micromobility Regulations stipulated a number of new rules… including a number of fines and penalties.
Acknowledging how beneficial the introduction of electric scooters could be (and even arguing that more people need to be encouraged to take up the alternate mode of transport), the MPs pointed at a number of potentially problematic issues with the notice…
First off was the worry that the suggested fines and penalties, while in nature vital to deter abuse, could end up backfiring due to their overly strict nature.
A registration contravention for electric scooters without trial run plates is €500. On the other hand, the same contravention for a car will only set you back anywhere between €25 and €60.
When it comes to an insurance policy, a contravention for not having one on your electric scooter will get you fined just as much as if you owned a car: over €2,000, and going all the way up to €4,600.
“Figures like this make one believe that it does not really encourage the use of alternative transport.”
“This is why we’re asking for there to be a more fair and just balance,” the two MPs stated in their motion.
Other issues that were highlighted ranged from the driving age to contraventions of driving the scooters without a licence.
When it comes to the latter, the Farrugias noted how its ultimate potential penalty of disqualifying someone from driving “only counts if the person is driving recklessly or is a danger to others” when cars are concerned.
As for the driving age, the MPs brought to light the contradictory nature of allowing 16-year-olds to ride an e-scooter… but adding an extra regulation that required them to be 18 years or older.
No person is currently allowed to drive – or let anyone else drive – an electric scooter on Malta’s roads unless that person is in possession of a driving licence.
“Similar modes of 250W transport do not need a licence,” the MPs argued.
To perhaps add insult to injury, the Farrugias noted how many of Malta’s main roads do not offer “adequate lanes” for the use of the scooters, a fact which will ultimately “reduced the scope of the use of this form of transport”.
“The Transport Authority must make a greater push to ensure more bicycle lanes and offer a continuous network for their efficient use, while also considering giving access to e-kickscooter in localities where one needs to travel on a main road to get from one side to another,” the MPs posited, going on to say there needs to be more education on the highway code and vehicle-type-wide enforcement of all road regulations if this exciting new alternative mode of transport is to truly kick off in Malta.