In overseas, it is generally called “E-Scooter”, is it right? It was called “Stand-up Scooter” or “Standing Scooter” before? In recent years, “E-Scooters” have been also gaining interest in Japan. It seems that demand for the new means of transportation, especially in urban areas, is expected to increase. Even though transportation such as buses, cabs, and trains are well developed in Japan, there are still problems such as the cost of each transport or traffic congestion. Also, if it isn’t necessary to move very long distances, it’s more convenient to use a means of transportation that is compact and can be used to pinpoint your destination, right? Although the use of bicycles is increasing, including rental bicycle services… Well well, there would be many people who would rather try out the ones that look a little newer?
So, here are a few things to keep in mind when using some kinds of E-Scooter in Japan. The most important point, of course, is the traffic laws that apply. As of February 2022, these are treated as a kind of “motorized bicycle”. As with scooters and the like, you need a driver’s license to drive on public roads. It must have a license plate and side mirrors that have been serviced. And you need to wear a helmet. Riding on the sidewalk is not allowed. The same applies to the use of other similar vehicles called “Stand-up Scooters” or “Standing Scooters”. However, it seems that these traffic laws are currently being considered for deregulation… If you are 16 years old or older, you may not need a driver’s license to use a vehicle that is controlled to run at speeds of 20 km/h or less. When actually driving, the speed is less than 6 km/h. As a general rule, ride on roads (helmets are optional). So in this case, it’s roughly the same as a bicycle? we guess so… There are still many pros and cons to these deregulation suggestions, and it seems that they are still under consideration. As such, when the laws are officially revised, we would like to announce the details again.
In the early 2000s, kick scooters became very popular in Japan. At one time, we used to see them more often than bicycles. And soon, kick scooters with electric motors and prime movers were also released. However, at the time, the traffic laws that covered them in Japan were unclear at the time. As a matter of fact, even now that “E-Scooters” are subject to the same traffic laws as “motorized bicycles”, there are still a lot of illegal and unwanted riding. This has caused a lot of accidents or problems. It’s a real problem. We would like to ask everyone to be careful when riding “E-Scooters”.
Additional Information (in April 2022)
In April 2022, the amendment to the Road Traffic Law has been officially passed. This time, people were very interested in the details of the amendment to the traffic law regarding E-Scooters. Until now, it was considered the same as motorized bicycles (e.g., scooters). Well, what will the traffic laws change? So, we have summarized the main points briefly～ Please refer to the followings.
・”Specified Small Motorized Vehicle”
A new vehicle classification has been created for E-Scooters. It is the “Specified Small Motorized Vehicle”. In other words, it is considered a different vehicle from a motorized bicycle, etc. Of course, it is also classified separately from light vehicles such as bicycles and ordinary kickboards.
・No driver’s license required
However, please note that there is an age limit of “16 years old or older”.
・Helmet use is not mandatory
As with bicycles, ordinary kickboards, and etc., there is no need to wear a helmet. Helmets are recommended, though.
・The maximum speed is limited to “20km/h”
For models that exceed this maximum speed limit, they will be considered the same as scooters, motorcycles, etc.
・Permitted to ride on roadways, regular bicycle lanes, and bicycle paths
As a general rule, driving on sidewalks and roadside strips is not permitted.
Well, some of the details of these revised laws are still unclear. For example… “Does the above revised law apply to an E-Scooter that can only go about 5～6km/h?”, “What will the applicable penalties be?” and etc. The revised Road Traffic Law regarding E-Scooters is expected to be enforced within two years or so. Perhaps, these details will be properly decided before those laws are enforced. The number of users of E-Scooters is expected to increase in the future. Domestic and foreign manufacturers are releasing new models one after another, and it seems that sharing services will be started. You may use them when your visiting Japan, right? Please be careful when riding E-Scooters on public roads.