Electric kick scooters on track to spread in Japan|Arab News Japan

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TOKYO: The use of electric kick scooters is likely to spread in Japan as a convenient means of transportation following recent deregulation while experts call on authorities to take steps to prevent traffic accidents involving them.

In April, the country enacted a revision to the road traffic law to ease restrictions regarding electric kick scooters.

Currently, such scooters are categorized as motorcycles, requiring users to have a driver’s license and wear a helmet while driving.

Under the revised law, people aged 16 or over will become able to use such scooters without a license before April 2024. They will be allowed to run on sidewalks as long as their speed is limited to 6 kilometers per hour or less.

“We’re developing a new vehicle,” said Daiki Okai, president and CEO of Luup Inc., which provides electric kick scooter sharing services in Tokyo and other major cities.

Luup has improved its scooters, including by enlarging the size of tires, based on the data acquired through the sharing services. It aims to enhance the usability of its scooters further.

In June, Striemo Inc., an in-house startup of Honda Motor Co., unveiled a three-wheel electric kick scooter. It received 1,200 applications for 300 units of the scooter during two days.

The specifications of the three-wheel scooter are easily changeable to make it compatible with the revised law, Striemo officials said.

The government is expected to make it mandatory to install flashing lamps on electric kick scooters to ban the use of those which cannot keep their speed low on sidewalks.

Striemo co-founder and CEO Yotaro Mori has given priority to ensuring the safety of the company’s scooters. “I don’t want people to claim that it is dangerous to run on sidewalks,” he said.

Yasumi Ito, professor at the Graduate School of the University of Yamanashi in the city of Kofu, who is well versed in traffic issues, pointed out that Japan has more accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians than Europe.

“It is a risk that more vehicles run on sidewalks,” Ito said, calling for pedestrians and vehicles to be strictly separated on the road.

JIJI Press

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