The characteristics of electric micro-mobility, how it works in Italy, what the law says about it and which vehicles are part of it.
Micro-mobility is an increasingly central issue when it comes to air pollution and global warming. Over the years, public opinion has become increasingly aware of the future of the planet and the political debate has shifted towards the search for solutions related to sustainable mobility. Today, the future, even in Italy, is increasingly oriented towards the search for urban micro-mobility, with the aim of creating more space for bicycles and pedestrians, reducing the circulation of cars and harmful emissions that pollute the atmosphere.
Born in the summer of 2019 on an experimental basis, at the beginning of 2020 the circulation of electric vehicles in cities was liberalized. The micromobility law allowed electric scooters, segways, monowheels and hoverboards to be equated with bicycles, forcing those who ride them to comply with certain limits of the Highway Code. Vehicles and electric micro-mobility are now a daily reality that has changed the mobility of many cities and will lead in the coming years, to epochal changes in the lifestyle of all citizens.
What is electric micro-mobility
What is electric micro-mobility and how does it work? Today, small electric vehicles are joining the newest generation of cars in the fight against pollution. In fact, they offer an excellent alternative for travel, allowing the driver to move from one part of the city to another in an ecological way and without problems related to parking. Micro-mobility vehicles are different. In addition to the well-known electric scooters, the list includes segways, devices that use a combination of electronics, computing and mechanics to move. There are also monowheels, vehicles similar to unicycles that have only one wheel, and hoverboards, vehicles equipped with parallel wheels that use gyroscopic sensors and electronic devices to transport people in a balanced position.
The law on electric micromobility
Until some time ago, the Highway Code did not provide for the free circulation of these micromobility vehicles. This generated sanctions and the impossibility to frame in the law some vehicles, such as electric scooters. The need to regularize the situation and the diffusion of this particular type of vehicles, led in July 2019 to the definition of a ministerial decree. Danilo Toninelli, Minister of Transport, signed a Dpcm in which the characteristics of micro-mobility vehicles were defined in detail. At the same time, a period of experimentation was started for their circulation in urban areas.
In that phase it was established that segways, hoverboards, electric scooters and monowheels could circulate in cities following a resolution of the municipality and on roads with a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h. The decree also allowed the transit on bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths in the reserved lane, observing however a speed not higher than 20 km/h for scooters and segways and lower than 6 km/h for monowheel and hoverboards. The Dpcm of the Ministry of Transport also imposed the use of a speed regulator and required municipalities to initiate experimentation related to electric micro-mobility, asking administrations to establish rental or parking areas for these devices and define circulation zones. As was to be expected, the decree sparked off a debate, above all concerning the safety of these vehicles. As time went by, new rules were introduced, aimed at controlling micro-mobility in the best possible way.
On March 1, 2020, in order to ensure safe road circulation of electric vehicles, new regulations came into force for electric scooters. This choice by the government marked the beginning of a liberalization of electric micromobility. Ciò significa che se in passato questi mezzi potevano circolare solo in alcune aree chiuse al pubblico, con la nuovissima normativa la circolazione è stata aperta in tutto il territorio nazionale, sulle piste ciclabili e le strade con un limite di velocità di 50 km/h. Dal primo gennaio 2020 dunque sono state introdotte nuove regole che riguardano la sicurezza e la circolazione dei piccoli veicoli elettrici.
Le regole riguardano:
- Velocità – I monopattini elettrici, secondo le nuove norme, sono paragonabili a una bicicletta a pedalata assistita. Per questo motivo i dispositivi che possono superare o raggiungere il limite di 20 km/h devono possedere un regolatore di velocità.
- Illuminazione e potenza del motore – Le regole sulla micromobilità elettrica stabiliscono che i veicoli dispongano di una illuminazione costituita da luce gialla fissa oppure bianca anteriore e catarifrangenti posteriori. Inoltre la potenza nominale massima non deve essere superiore ai 500 watt.
- I conducenti – In condizioni di scarsa luminosità, i conducenti che sono sprovvisti di luci hanno il divieto di usare il veicolo e sono obbligati a trasportarlo a mano. Sulle piste ciclabili e su strada inoltre è obbligatorio l’utilizzo di giubbotti oppure di bretelle retroriflettenti sia per il segway che per il monopattino elettrico. Secondo le norme i veicoli di micromobilità possono essere guidati esclusivamente da conducenti maggiorenni oppure minorenni in possesso di patente AM per l’utilizzo del motorino. L’uso del casco non è obbligatorio (ma per i minorenni sì) inoltre è vietato il trasporto di passeggeri e il traino di oggetti.
I veicoli della micromobilità
Quali sono i veicoli della micromobilità? This category includes electric scooters, hoverboards, segways and electric bicycles.
The electric scooter
The electric scooter is one of the most popular means of urban mobility. A vehicle that allows you to cover even long distances in a fun, fast and sustainable way. In addition, it is easy to transport, both by car and bus, and guarantees trips that are zero-emission and 100% green. The scooter has spread like wildfire in Italy, thanks to its ability to integrate into city life in a sustainable way, ensuring a range of up to 50 km on a single charge. With this means it is possible to circulate on pedestrian areas, bike paths and in some streets, reaching the office or school.
Hoverboards are considered an efficient solution to be able to travel small distances. When compared to other devices, they are slightly more difficult to ride as they require experience and balance. These means of micro-mobility are especially appreciated by young people. They are very light, so they can be easily transported, boast an autonomy of up to 20 km and have the capacity to reach a maximum speed of 15 km/h. The market price, moreover, is contained, while the compact dimensions allow it to be easily stored, transporting it without problems in the car or on the bus.
Segway is a micro-mobility vehicle halfway between the hoverboard and the electric scooter. It is very easy to maneuver, thanks to the presence of a handlebar and has a less precarious balance. It can reach a speed of about 20 km / h, also has an autonomy that reaches up to 40 km depending on the model. Finally, the maintenance required is minimal. The operation of this tool is based on the principle of self-balancing, so to move safely and without risk is important to train and "get the hang of it" with time.
The monowheel is an electric unicycle consisting of a motor connected to a wheel, a gyroscope and a battery. This self-balancing vehicle is built so that the vehicle always tends to return to the point of balance. This means that if the driver becomes unbalanced forward or backward, the wheel will move to follow. Driving, despite the premise, is quite simple, although some training is required. The bike is light, very easy to transport and with a good autonomy.
The electric bicycle
E-bikes represent the symbol of sustainable urban mobility. They allow you to cover long distances in a sustainable way. These bicycles work with the famous mode of assisted pedaling, with an electric motor that is activated with the mechanical movement and is deactivated at a speed of 25 Km/h. The e-bike has a range of up to 100 km, and there are many models available on the market depending on the needs and the use you choose to make of the means.
Micro-mobility in Italian cities
In recent years, micro-mobility has become a widespread reality in many Italian cities. There are many urban contexts that, following the advice of the legislator, have decided to adapt to this change, responding in an immediate way. From Milan to Bologna, up to Rome, Florence and Bari, in many metropolises there are sharing mobility services available that allow people to rent micro-mobility vehicles, such as electric scooters or e-bikes. In addition, numerous parking areas have been created for these vehicles at certain key points and near bus and metro stops to facilitate their use. The change has just begun and many cities are still adjusting, engaging in the creation of infrastructure that can encourage the spread of these vehicles, creating a new vision of mobility.