Electric bikes, electric scooters, hoverboards and electric unicycles are increasingly common means of personal transport on the street.
This increased presence raises many questions, in terms of both the safety of their users and their societal impact. In 2019, a European campaign highlighted the fact that a majority of the products present on the European market at that time did not meet legal safety requirements. Recent studies have shown that, despite the positive impact of these new modes of transport on urban mobility, their use leaves users vulnerable to traumatic injuries.
Discussions at the European level are ongoing to reform the legislative apparatus concerning these modes of transport. However, personal transport is currently subject to two regulations, depending on the category:
- Personal transport such as electric bicycles (power >250 W and/or speed >25 km/h) and electric scooters with seat (height >54 cm) are covered by Regulation (EU) 168/2013 on two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles. Electric scooters with seat (height >54 cm) are considered to be a class A moped if their maximum speed is 25 km/h and a class B moped if their maximum speed is 45 km/h. They must therefore be registered and insured. Helmets must also be worn and the minimum age for use is 16. You can find more information on this subject on the website of the FPS Mobility:
- Electric bicycles (with assisted pedalling, power <250 W and speed <25 km/h), electric scooters without seat (or with seat height <54 cm) and all other electric personal transport are covered by the Royal Decree of 12 August 2008 (transposing Directive 2006/42/EC) on the placing of machinery on the market. The maximum speed must not exceed 25 km/h for use on public roads. In this event, the rider does not need a driver's licence but must follow the traffic rules. This kind of transport is considered a machine and must therefore bear certain markings such as the CE marking, manufacturer and product identification, year of construction, etc. In addition, this type of transport must always be accompanied by a manual and an EC declaration of conformity in the language(s) of the linguistic region concerned.
Any modification to an electric personal transport device (for example, lowering the seat to less than 54 cm or adding a seat for an electric scooter) may mean that the scooter is subject to different legislation. This modification has an impact on safety (e.g. centre of gravity). The person who made the changes is then considered the manufacturer and has the associated obligations, including the requirement to demonstrate the safety of the product.
The Royal Decree of 4 March 2002 on the rental of products applies to the rental of such means of transport. This means that the following information must always be provided to the consumer at the start of the rental:
- the instructions for the use of the rented product,
- the safety measures to be taken when using the rented product, orally and by handing over the accompanying document(s),
- an announcement of the safety measures in a legible form and in a location clearly visible to the lessee, if the rented product is used on the lessor's premises, buildings or grounds.
The documents provided and the announcements must be in at least the language(s) of the linguistic region where the product is rented.
The lessor must provide the lessee with the personal protective equipment recommended or required in the operating instructions for the rented product.
Furthermore, according to Article 2 of the Code of Economic Law, book IX, only safe products can be put on the market and only safe services can be offered. A safe service (such as the rental of a product) means that only safe products can be offered.