The amendments to the Road Traffic Law adopted by the Saeima less than a month ago prescribe that the service provider who ensures the use of electricity scooters as shared vehicles, shall perform a verification of the identity and age of the recipient of the service in the mobile application or website.
Such a requirement will have a financial impact on the scooter hire companies.
Valts Marga, specialist for the “Bolt” scooters operations, said: “In order to ensure the identity and age check of our users, it will be necessary to introduce qualified high-security electronic identification tools in the Bolt application, which will require additional financial resources to implement this new function. This means that the new rule of law will have a mostly financial impact."
Head of the “Tuul” rental electricity scooter company in Latvia Raivis Ozoliņš said: “As regards verification of the identity of the users [..] these changes will have a significant impact on operators' activities, the introduction of such [..] could be estimated at over €100 thousand investment for the largest operators, which is a huge burden."
The Latvian Mobility Association (LMA), represented by “Bolt”, “Ride” and “Tuul”, called on the former President of Latvia, Egils Levits, not to declare the amendments to the Road Traffic Law. The LMA addressed Levits with a letter with a request to return the amendments to the Saeima for review. But the president did declare amendments to the law.
In LMA's opinion, the deadline of September 1 to introduce technological changes to the control of the identity of electricity screeners is too short. The association pointed out that this deadline had not been debated and that it was not possible for any of the operators to introduce the technological innovations identified in the amendments to the law during that period.
More agitation is likely to have been caused by another new provision of the Road Traffic Law: from 1 September, a person aged 14 years old is only allowed to participate in road traffic with an electric observer if he or she has the right to drive a bicycle or any category of vehicle.
Meanwhile, the Road Traffic and Safety Directorate (CSDD) told the portal LSM.lv that, since the adoption of the amendments to the law, it has been observed that a higher interest in bicycle driving licenses has been shown.
The head of the CSDD Qualification Department, Juris Teteris, said: “What we are currently observing – people who are 18 or more years old who have not had a desire or need to obtain a driving license – are currently interested in obtaining a bicycle driving license in relation to these amendments. Until now, adults did not need this bicycle driving license at all, and they only benefited children. It is a new, unprecedented group of customers."
In this regard, “Bolt”, which offers its services in 11 Latvian cities, does not forecast a significant drop in customer volume.
Bolt spokesman Marga pointed out: “A significant reduction in the number of customers that could have an impact on the price of the service is not expected. A slight drop in customer volume is expected to follow just after the introduction of the new system, but not for a long time."
Changes to the law also provide that the local government is entitled to impose rules on the use of shared vehicles, speed limitation zones, and parking exclusion zones. The use of electric scooters may also be controlled by the local government police.