Updated 2 August: Only last week Arona explained that its clampdown on electric scooters would see fines and confiscations for use in pedestrian areas unless they were ridden by a disabled person at walking pace. Now, Adeje has joined Arona and announced that it has passed its own decree banning electric vehicles on footpaths, pedestrian zones and public spaces. The new decree overturns the council’s 2014 bylaw awarding licences to rent the machines, and reverts to the previous order that regulated use of public spaces and mobility devices for those with disabilities.
The decree has been approved and published in the BOC, and has now been activated, with the local police and relevant authorities adopting coordinated measures to monitor and control the new regulations. The local police now have specific orders to denounce and impose fines on individuals renting these machines as well as on companies who refuse to comply with the new law.
Adeje’s decision has been taken following a number of reports from the local tourism department and local police, as well as many complaints from both residents and tourists about these vehicles in pedestrian zones being driven without even basic consideration for the public, and resulting in some cases in injury and material damage. The council says that the use of these machines became completely imcompatible with conviviality or coexistence.
Updated 25 July: Arona Ayuntamiento says that it has met today with some twenty local businesses from both Arona and Adeje which rent out these scooters and explained the reasons behind its forthcoming clampdown. The council stressed that its bylaws specify that these vehicles may only be used in pedestrian areas, and only by those with a temporary or permanent disability which reduces their mobility. The council says that it has already confiscated more than 300 scooters in the last year – 30 over the last month alone – and that controls will now be tightened to ensure that the vehicles are legal and that they don’t pose a risk to pedestrians.
The new measures are in the final stages of being approved but are being enforced already. They will also apply to bicycles on pavements as already covered by the bylaw. For the council, the meeting was attended by Arona’s acting mayor José Antonio Reverón, works and services councillor José Luis González, tourism councillor David Pérez, and finance councillor Raquel García. They said that Arona, for its part, has not actually granted specific licences for this activity, the businesses being allowed to operate by permits which will now be reviewed. What the position is in Adeje is not yet clear, but out of the twenty businesses represented at the meeting, only three were from Arona, while seventeen were from Adeje municipality.
The council also clarified that those vehicles confiscated for driving – in what must be a pedestrian area and by someone who must be of reduced mobility – faster than a walking pace, which is the speed limit imposed by the bylaw, will not be returned. Tourism councillor Pérez said that the council regretted the personal circumstances of the businesses present, but the principal requirement was public order safety – and that it was hardly something that they couldn’t have known about. The council has spent weeks, he said, studying the current situation to draw up the new regulations, including usage and the sanctions which can be imposed.
Updated 24 July: Rumours abound about the “urgent measures” that were supposed to be passed by Arona Ayuntamiento over the course of this last week, the latest being that they have been “banned completely” – something I’ve now had umpteen emails asking me to confirm. The rumour is false, but the council has said that it will tighten up the local application of the law and impose hefty fines on vehicles being driven in pedestrian areas, and especially those being driven at high speed on pavements, and that the police will be given proper instructions on how to police the problem.
The police response is interesting. They say that the council has instructed them to come down on the problem like a ton of bricks – but they have no law to apply! Indeed, it seems that the road safety law that’s being tightened up for them to police has actually lapsed, so is no longer in force: the law concerned is Real Decreto Legislativo 339/1990, of 2 March 1990, a law that was in force until 31 January this year (link). Meanwhile, Jeremy Mills of Orange Badge questions how the police could anyway be required to judge what might be “high speed”, something that has no legal weight!
As far as Adeje is concerned, there are new measures afoot, it seems, but no clear announcement yet as to what’s intended, nor whether it will deliver the promised coordination with Arona. Seemingly it really is beyond the wit of man to come up with coordinated regulations restricting such vehicles to the disabled, and disallowing road vehicles on pavements … regulations that, moreover, also benefit from actually being in force.
Original post 12 July: In a seeming haze of amnesia about a bylaw passed last August – which I posted HERE – Arona has said that it is to take urgent measures and pass a decree this week to ban scooters. It is also hoping that Adeje will join in the measure, something that it actually did last September (link) in the wake of Arona’s first decision to clamp down on the problem, and establish rules along the whole of the south west holiday coast.
In the forefront of the sudden rush to activity is an open letter written by Orange Badge proprietor Jeremy Mills which he also posted to my Facebook page HERE, in which he says that serious accidents have now already happened and that a fatality is just a matter of time. Routinely, now, people say they’re not coming back to Tenerife because you’re taking your life in your hands just strolling along the sea front, and complaints are made about 30km/h drivers on double scooters sometimes with beer cans being waved around as they beep pedestrians to get out of their way.
And so, yet again, the answer to a problem seems to be to pass new regulations when there are already perfectly good regulations in place … which are either ignored or not communicated by council and local police. What is the point of new bylaws if these too are to get the same uninterested treatment? Will someone actually have to be killed?
Part of the problem, it seems clear, is that opening licences were granted under flexibilization schemes to help start-up businesses. These allowed operations to begin trading without the byzantine administration normally required. Economically, that makes sense, and it has clearly helped many small businesses set up that would otherwise never have got off the ground, but it has also resulted in a proliferation of the scooter market because it is a niche that clearly has a tourist appeal.
Surely what must happen is that the councils must revisit these licences and see whether they have licensed businesses to offer disability equipment, or tourist leisure facilities. If the latter, then it cannot be beyond the wit of man to legislate against tourist leisure activities including mowing down pedestrians, and driving road vehicles, while drunk, uninsured and unhelmeted, on pavements at a speed that at times it’s impossible to reach on the roads in the more congested parts of the south west coast.
“Something must be done” has now itself been done to death. What must actually be done is that the existing bylaws are checked to see if they are up to the job, improved where needed, and then enforced!