Electric scooters to be tested on some Gyeonggi bike lanes

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Electric scooters to be tested on some Gyeonggi bike lanes

Gyeonggi residents no longer need to worry about being mowed down by electric scooters on the sidewalk as the government is paving the way for the mobility devices to be used in bike lanes as part of its regulatory sandbox program.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday that it has approved requests from electric scooter sharing companies Maas Asia and Olulo to allow users to ride in bicycle lanes in areas in Gyeonggi.

Under current transportation laws, electric scooters are considered two-wheeled vehicles, requiring riders to hold a driver’s license, wear helmets and only use them on roads.

The regulation, however, has been largely ignored as the mobility devices run amok on bicycle lanes and sidewalks across the country.

In a regulatory sandbox, normal rules and laws are held in abeyance to allow for the development of new technology or innovative services. The sandbox program has so far allowed 26 services to operate since it was launched in February this year.

Through the approval, Maas Asia will provide its electric scooter sharing service on bike paths around Dongtan Station in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, which suffers from heavy congestion during commuting hours. Olulo will be able to operate its service around Jeongwang Station in Siheung, Gyeonggi, which lacks sufficient public transportation.

The shared electric scooter services are similar to the shared bike service operated by Seoul government. Users access the scooters through an application and are able to ride from designated parking spots.

The Trade Ministry said its review committee approved the request on the condition that users follow safety regulations and that vehicle speeds are kept under 25 kilometers per hour (15.5 miles per hour).

The government acknowledged that enforcing the regulation is difficult with the growing number of users and amendments are currently being discussed at the National Assembly.

It added that it hopes the limited approval for the services will help prepare the government for new transportation laws, given the recent rise in personal mobility services.

The Trade Ministry also approved four other services on Wednesday for the sandbox program, including a company that uses a 3-D printer to create latte art.

Unlike conventional latte art that uses milk foam, the service uses a 3-D printer to print color images on coffee.

While the practice is currently restricted under sanitation laws, the government gave temporary approval to the company as the printer uses edible ink.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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