Barcelona, pioneering city in regulating personal mobility vehicles (PMVs)
Urban mobility has changed radically in recent years. After triumphing in the US, the electric scooter is now part of the mobile landscape of large European cities. They have come as a solution for micro-mobility (means of transport aimed at travelling short distances: for example, those known as ’the last mile’, i.e. the journey from the bus stop or metro to the final destination).
This vehicle has a multitude of advantages: it is sustainable, it saves time, it allows you to avoid traffic, it’s economical (according to a recent study by the Mapfre Foundation, the cost of use is around €0.20 per 100 km), it’s light, it doesn’t need to be parked, its size facilitates transport and storage, it doesn’t need physical effort to ride, and it doesn’t require any traffic permit. What’s more, as it doesn’t have an engine, individuals are not obliged to get insurance.
More than 20,000 electric scooters in Spain
It all points to this contraption conquering our streets. In fact, according to data from the Association of Personal Mobility Vehicle Users (Spanish abbreviation: AUVMP), there are already more than 20,000 electric scooters in circulation in Spain, especially in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. And, returning to the figures of the Mapfre report, while the sales of these modes of transport increased by more than 20% at state level in 2017, in Europe, the AUVMP assures, they are doubling year on year.
And so, with the rapid increase and growing trend in the use of PMVs in Barcelona, the coexistence of these new two-wheel vehicles with the rest of the mobile fleet and with pedestrians became a priority issue to be resolved. Before falling into potential traffic and road-safety chaos – and given that, to date, there is no state legislation on the matter: only an Instruction from the Department of Traffic (DGT in Spanish), but this lacks legal effects – the City Council took measures and in 2017 launched a groundbreaking ordinance to regulate these vehicles. Meanwhile, the Department of Traffic has continued to work on a more specific and complete regulation since the end of November last year.
Pioneering and unprecedented regulations
We will briefly explain the City Council Regulations that affect electric scooters (excluding, therefore, vehicles with more than two wheels):
Classification of PMVs
• Type A electric vehicles: small and light. These include unicycles, ‘hoverboards’ and all electric scooters which do not exceed 25 kg in weight or 20 km/h.
• Type B electric vehicles: 25-50 kg of weight and with a speed that does not exceed 30 km/h, such as so-called ‘segways’.
• 30 km/h roads: Type B scooters must not exceed 30 km/h. Type A are permitted only if they operate at over 20 km/h (and, obviously, at less than 30 km/h).
• Pavements: Scooters are not permitted.
• Streets with a single platform: If the area is exclusively for pedestrians, only type A are permitted, without exceeding 10 km/h. And if vehicle traffic is allowed on this road, type B scooters may also be used up to a maximum of 20 km/h.
• Bike lanes on pavements: Types A and B are allowed, provided the width of the lane allows it. Scooters must only go in the direction indicated, and no more than 10 km/h.
• Bike lanes on the road: As above, but with a maximum of 30 km/h.
• Parks: Type A and B scooters are allowed access to parks at less than 10 km/h.
Other rules and indications
• In order to ride type B scooters, the use of a helmet is mandatory, as well as lights or reflective elements and a bell.
• It is not possible to listen to music with any type of headset or headphones.
• To operate these PMVs, the minimum age is 16 years.
• It is forbidden to park type A and B PMVs against trees, traffic lights, benches and other elements of street furniture.
Any infraction of these regulations is punishable by a fine of €100, €200 or €500 depending on severity.
The best electric scooters on the market
Given the proliferation of these vehicles and the multitude of existing models, we offer you a selection of the best electric scooters on the market according to two experts.
One is Francesc Llevat, manager of one of the reference stores in Barcelona, SoloRueda, which specialises in this mode of transport. An engineer, he left for China in 2012 because of the crisis. In Shenzen he discovered the scooter and saw clearly what the near future held in terms of individual, urban and sustainable mobility. Years later, in 2016, and with a great deal of experience behind him, he returned to the Catalan capital to open the business he now runs.
Let’s see, then, his top picks:
1. The Dualtron Spider. A “very powerful” scooter, with a dual 1600W motor and a range of between 40 and 50 kilometres. Because of its power, says Llevat, it is very light: it weighs just 19.5 kg.
2. The Vankus Rocket. A vigorous vehicle of 1000W. Its “double damping and dual brakes” stand out.
3. The Joyor X5S. We are talking about a two-wheel cycle of 500W weighing only 16 kg. And it has a range of up to 50 km, says the expert.
4. The Xiaomi Mijia 360. The best seller. It is very economical (costing around €380), although you should bear in mind that it has little power for those who weigh more than 75 kg.
5. The Joyor Y10. It has a great range, of up to 100 km.
Ranking of electric scooters according to user and needs
Our second expert, Juan Francisco Romero, is the founder of Patinete Eléctrico Shop, a renowned online store based in Barcelona, although it operates throughout Spain. Like Llevat, he also founded his store in 2016. Romero tells us, on this occasion, his ‘top 3’, based on different users and needs:
- El E-Motion Advance 350W. El más vendido en su tienda, a nivel general. Se trata de un patinete de gama media, con la potencia y autonomía suficientes como para recorrer la ciudad cómodamente. “Plegable, ligero y de calidad”, subraya.
- El Dynamic 500W. Este lo recomienda Romero para los usuarios que superen los 90 kg de peso, necesiten subir pendientes o que simplemente busquen algo superior a la versión anterior.
- El ICe Q5 2000W. Este modelo lo suele adquirir un público de entre 30 y 40 años de edad, que pone más énfasis en la velocidad y en la diversión. “Hablamos ya de un patinete de alta gama y con grandes prestaciones”, sostiene este especialista.
1. The E-Motion Advance 350W. The best seller in his store, overall. It is a mid-range scooter, with sufficient power and autonomy to comfortably travel around the city. “Foldable, lightweight and quality”, he affirms.
2. The Dynamic 500W. This is recommended by Romero for users who exceed 90 kg in weight, need to ride up hills or are simply looking for something superior to the previous version.
3. The ICe Q5 2000W. This model is usually bought by users between 30 and 40 years of age, who place more emphasis on speed and fun. “We’re now talking about a high-end scooter with great performance,” says this specialist.
The new Xiaomi
Finally, it should be noted that Xiaomi, the Chinese brand whose electric scooter (the M365) is currently the best seller in Spain, launched the Xiaomi Mi Scooter Pro in mid-February. This new two-wheel cycle exceeds the company’s previous model with 64% more battery capacity. It can reach 25km/h, climb steeper gradients and has a range of up to 45 km. However, the battery takes between eight and nine hours to charge, almost twice the time needed by its predecessor. The power of the engine is 300W (compared to the M365’s 250W). Already on sale in China, there are still no plans announced for its arrival in Spain.