TOKYO — The National Police Agency (NPA) announced on Feb. 4 that it would establish special measures in Japan for electric scooters — two-wheeled vehicles that can be ridden standing up — such as not requiring riders to wear helmets during street tests set to start in April.
Under the Road Traffic Act, these scooters are classified as “motorized bicycles” and riders must wear helmets, but the regulations will be relaxed for the test period scheduled for Tokyo, Fukuoka and other cities to run through October.
E-scooter-sharing businesses had requested a relaxation of the rules. The operators began an experiment in October 2020 using bicycle lanes, which were not permitted by law, and the total distance traveled by December exceeded 2,600 kilometers. As of Jan. 28, 2021, no traffic accidents or violations involving the scooters had been reported.
In response to these results, the NPA decided to categorize electric scooters as “special small motor vehicles,” the same as cultivators that can be driven without helmets. In order to ride an electric scooter on public roads, people need a driver’s license. To ensure safety, the vehicle’s speed must not exceed 15 kilometers per hour, and areas with heavy traffic will be excluded from the zones where riders don’t have to wear helmets.
A final decision on special measures for electric scooters will be made after public comments on the matter are collected.
(Japanese original by Naritake Machida, City News Department)