Germany has become the latest nation to approve the use of stand-up e-scooters on roads and bicycle paths, paving the way for US startups Bird Rides Inc and Lime to enter Europe’s biggest economy.
The upper house of parliament voted to allow e-scooters with a maximum speed of 20km per hour to be used by anyone age 14 and older. Steffen Bilger, a deputy Transport Minister, said last week the government is aiming for the legislation – which prohibits scooter use on sidewalks and does not require a helmet – to take effect next month.
While Bird and Lime have each raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, European competitors are moving fast to beat them in a race to roll out products. Swedish mobility startup Voi Technology AB said this week it would begin operations in Germany as soon as June. Rival Flash, the company created by Delivery Hero SE co-founder Lukasz Gadowski, has signed a partnership agreement with Herne, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, to offer e-scooters for rent.
“Germany has been the toughest market so far I would say on the regulation side,” Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and chief executive officer of Voi, said in an interview.
Some of Europe’s other leading economies still don’t have laws that permit the use of e-scooters. In the UK, the lack of guidelines prompted the British government to open “the biggest regulatory review in a generation” of current legislation, some of which dates back to 1835.