According to Cuenca Councilman Diego Morales, it’s time to establish rules for a variety of the small electric vehicles proliferating on city streets and sidewalks. “The number of these motorized conveyances has exploded in the past few years and they are endangering the safety of pedestrians and motorists as well as the riders themselves,” he says.
Although he has not compiled a comprehensive list, Morales says the new regulations need to apply to variety of small electric-powered vehicles such as bicycles, scooters, skateboards, Segways, mopeds and even electric unicycles. “There are more of them appearing all the time so the regulations need to cover a wide range,” he says. “Only within the last month, I am beginning to see electric skateboards on the street near my office and I just heard there is such as thing as a unicycle with a motor. Who would believe that?”
According to Morales, the number of accidents involving electric vehicles is growing rapidly. “Operators of these things move from the street to the sidewalk and back again, taking the path of least resistance. Many of them ignore traffic signals and drive the wrong way on one-way streets,” he says. “Besides endangering others, they also endanger themselves since most of them do not wear helmets. Some electric mopeds can reach speeds of 70 kilometers per hour and scooters run as fast as 30.”
Morales says he, himself, was involved in an accident with a scooter in January. “I was crossing a one-way street and looked in the direction of the traffic and when I stepped off the curb I was hit by a guy going the wrong way. Fortunately, neither of us was badly hurt but we both ended up lying on the pavement.”
Called the Ordinance for the Regulation of Micromobility, Morales’s proposal would establish speed limits, weight limits, areas of use and non-use, designated parking zones and requirements for safety gear, such as helmets.
The ordinance, which is still under development, has wide support among the city council, according to Morales. “Everyone recognizes that something needs to be done since the number of these vehicles is increasing so fast.”
He adds the intention of the ordinance is not to discourage the use of electric-powered transportation products. “In fact, it is a good thing that people are getting away from gasoline-powered cars and we want to encourage that,” Morales says. “We have said for years that this is our goal. On the other hand, scooters and mopeds cannot operate under the law of the jungle. Our streets and sidewalks are crowded already so we need new rules.”