Japan to Start New Rules for Electric Kick Scooters in July

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Electric kick scooters

Tokyo, Jan. 19 (Jiji Press)—With electric kick scooters growing more popular in Japan, the National Police Agency will introduce new rules for the emerging means of mobility July 1, it was learned Thursday.

The new rules are included in the revised road traffic law, enacted last April. They were supposed to go into effect by April 2024.

But the NPA decided to apply the rules earlier, following progress in preparations by the transport ministry and the spread of electric kick scooters, according to agency officials.

Currently, electric kick scooters are classified as motorized bicycles, which means that riders are required to have a driver’s license and wear a helmet.

Wearing helmets is not mandatory for users of scooter rental services provided by specially approved operators. This special measure will be abolished when the new rules are introduced in July.

Under the new rules, people do not need to wear a helmet or have a driver’s license to ride electric kick scooters, just like bicycles. Those aged under 16, however, cannot ride such scooters.

The revised law says that electric kick scooters must be up to 190 centimeters in length and up to 60 centimeters in width. The maximum legal speed is 20 kilometers per hour.

The scooters must operate on roads in principle.

But riders will be allowed to use walkways where bicycle access is granted if they restrict their speed to up to 6 km per hour and do not block pedestrians’ way. On walkways, riders must make sure green lights attached to their scooters are flashing.

If scooter users commit a traffic violation, they may be subject to criminal punishment and receive traffic tickets.

People who have repeated some types of violation, such as ignoring the red traffic light and driving under the influence, at least twice in three years will be required to attend safe driving classes.

Users of electric kick scooters that do not comply with the new rules will have to have a driver’s license granting the use of motorized bicycles.

Sharing service operators with such scooters are expected to take steps such as switching over to models meeting the new rules.

The big issue for now is raising the public’s awareness about the new rules. The police are planning to boost publicity activities and offer guidance to address the issue.