Recently, we have been receiving more frequent inquiries from German customers about the use of e-scooters on sidewalks during gas leak detection. We have conducted intensive research on this and spoken with two road traffic authorities from two different German federal states. So that the information is also available to you at all times, here are our findings.
German Small Electric Vehicles Ordinance (Elektrokleinstfahrzeuge-Verordnung)
In Germany, e-scooters fall under the Small Electric Vehicles Ordinance (eKFV). §10 of the eKFV regulates the permissible traffic areas. Accordingly, the following regulations apply in principle:
- Within built-up areas, e-scooters are only allowed to ride on structurally designed bicycle paths, including shared sidewalks and bicycle paths and the traffic area of separated bicycle paths and sidewalks allocated to bicycle traffic, as well as bicycle lanes. If these are not available, e-scooters may be driven on roadways or in traffic-calmed areas.
- Outside built-up areas, e-scooters are only allowed to ride on built-up bike lanes, including shared sidewalks and bike lanes and the traffic area of separated bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as bike lanes and shoulder lanes allocated to bike traffic. If such are not available, bicycles may ride on roadways.
- It is forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the sidewalk, in the pedestrian zone and in one-way streets against the direction of traffic.
Difference between bicycle track and bicycle lane
- Bicycle track: division from the carriageway by structural measures (e.g. kerb, green strip, etc.)
- Bicycle lane: Separation from the roadway by colored markings.
If a road is opened for cyclists by a traffic sign “Cyclists free”, this also applies to the users of e-scooters. On other traffic areas, the use of an e-scooter can be permitted by the additional sign Small Electric Vehicles Free “Elektrokleinstfahrzeuge frei” (§ 10 paragraph 3 eKFV).
Common traffic signs according to German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO)
For driving on other traffic areas with an e-scooter, the road traffic authorities can issue a permit for certain individual cases or generally for certain applicants. However, the exemption always refers only to the area of responsibility of the road traffic authority, i.e. a district area, or even only to one municipality or community, if applicable. It cannot be issued for several counties by one road traffic authority. In the application for an exemption, the locations and the time period as well as the reason for driving must be specified. In addition, the driver of the e-scooter must then be recognizable as an operational driver (e.g. warning jacket with company logo).
E-scooters may be driven on many traffic areas. If gas pipelines are located below traffic areas on which it is not permitted to drive an e-scooter (e.g. sidewalk), it is possible to apply for an exemption. However, this must be applied for by the respective utility or service provider and causes a high bureaucratic effort.
The unbureaucratic (and recommended by us) variant would be to simply drive the e-scooter even on prohibited traffic areas. Of course, you should drive carefully and show consideration for other road users (e.g. pedestrians). Incidentally, this also applies if an exemption is granted. In view of the only slightly increased speed (max. double walking speed) and the infrequent use of the respective traffic areas (even according to the EU Methane Regulation probably “only” two to three times per year), the use of the e-scooter on sidewalks is also associated with a manageable risk. Should qualified staff for gas leak detection on the e-scooter be stopped by the police, the facts of the case can certainly be well explained with reference to the public interest.
Background on the “public interest”: the above-ground inspection of buried gas pipelines, in addition to the odorization of natural gas, represents an important safety measure to protect the public from the formation of flammable gas/air mixtures. There is also public interest in the reduction of methane emissions in the context of climate protection (EU Methane Regulation).
You want to know more about our e-scooter solution and the response times of our Laser HUNTER ? Click here for our detailed application article, in which we also list all accessories for this specific task.