(Un)Safe Scootering in Sao Paulo
To increase the safety of scooters in Sao Paulo, the Sao Paulo City Hall implemented new rules for e-scooters. Amongst the safety measures: riders are now required to wear helmets and they can no longer ride on pavements.
At the end of May, 557 e-scooters where removed from the streets of Sao Paulo, citing safety considerations. Most of the e-scooter riders do not wear a helmet and they ride dangerously between other road users, including cars. In addition, the scooter companies did not apply for legal accreditation, but entered the Brazilian streets overnight – as in many other cities.
Therefore, as from now, operating a scooter company without permission of the local administration will result in specific measures, ranging from the confiscation of the scooters to a fine of R$20,000 ($5,000).
If scooter companies want to keep their vehicles on the streets, they have to comply with certain safety measures, according to the new law of Mayor Bruno Covas of Sao Paulo.
The four safety rules that will be implemented are similar to those issued elsewhere for scooters:
- Obligatory wearing of helmets
- Prohibition to ride on pavements
- Obligation to ride on bike paths, bike lanes or streets with speed limits of up to 40km/h. Yet, the Brazilian Traffic Code (CTB) says that scooters can only be used on pedestrian paths, bike paths, and lanes but not on the streets.
- The maximum speed of the scooter should not exceed 20km/h
In order to make scooter companies respect the local scooter laws, companies can be fined R$100 ($25) to R$20,000 ($5,000). However, it is up to the scooter company to decide whether they pass the fine onto the customer or not.
In addition, scooter companies are bound to
- Promote education campaigns on the correct use of the scooters in public spaces and on the road.
- Use apps or websites to identify and locate mobile rental points and provide fixed rental points rather than scattering the vehicles randomly around the city.
- Collect irregularly parked equipment
- Be responsible for all damage resulting from the service
- Keep user data confidential
- Provide user data to municipal or public security agendas, if requested
- Report the number of accidents recorded in the system to SMMT, on a monthly basis
On top of that, the scooter itself must be equipped with a speed indicator, and a horn, and front, rear, and side indicator lights.
The announced measures are still provisional, and they will be elaborated more in the next three months. Still, the case of Sao Paulo is part of a larger global trend in which cities and local municipalities are trying to find a way to implement shared micro mobility devices such as scooters in a legal and safe way in the overall urban mobility landscape. Many cities have already confiscated and re-released e-scooters on their streets as well, yet under similar safety and legislative conditions.
Hence, the seizure of the e-scooters in Sao Paulo will probably not mean the end of scootering overall. To the contrary, it can be the beginning of a more sustainable, safe and legal partnership between the city and the scooter companies of which scooter riders and other road users will benefit the most.