Electric scooters a danger to users when driven legally: Danish police

Traffic laws require users of electric scooters to signal when using roads, but that could result in dangerous situations in practice, according to Danish police.

Keeping balance on the scooters while signalling with one hand can cause dangerous situations due to the effect on the rider’s balance, the National Police Traffic Centre (Nationale Færdselscenter) told newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

In a report by the newspaper, a number of electric scooter users in Aarhus said they wanted to ride legally but found it difficult to keep their balance one-handed while signalling with the light vehicle in motion.

Traffic rules for the two-wheeled machines, introduced earlier this year under trial provisions, require riders to make the same signals as cyclists.

“You must put your hand out when you turn and put your hand up when you stop,” Christian Berthelsen, police assistant at the National Police Traffic Centre, told Jyllands-Posten.

In practice, the signals are far from ubiquitous on Danish bicycle lanes.

“But trying to comply with traffic rules on an electric scooter is challenging. It certainly needs a lot of experience using the scooters before this manoeuvre can be made smoothly,” Berthelsen added.

“As soon as you remove your hand from the handlebar, the scooter can become very wobbly, which could cause an accident,” he said.

The Council for Safe Traffic (Rådet for Sikker Trafik), a private organisation which campaigns for safer road use, called it a “paradox” that the electric scooters are permitted on roads at all.

Speaking to Jyllands-Posten, the organisation’s CEO Mogens Kjærgaard Møller called for political action over the electric scooters before a serious accident occurs in Denmark.

The electric scooters have appeared in their thousands in Danish cities since the beginning of the year, as rental companies take advantage of the trial traffic provisions to operate them.

They must be used on bicycle lanes and are subject to the same traffic rules as bicycles. They may not travel faster than 20 kilometres per hours and drivers must be over 15 years old.

The two-wheeled electric vehicles are often left badly parked, and authorities in Copenhagen have announced rules limiting their numbers in specified areas. Police in the city recently stopped 28 people in one weekend for riding the scooters while drunk or stoned.