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Brussels regulates free-floating mobility services

19 March 2019

Over the past few months, an increasing amount of new e-scooter sharing schemes and free-floating sharing bicycles have rolled out on the streets of Brussels. But what is the impact of these new mobility services on the city?

Several companies are offering these services via a mobile app and the approach is straightforward: you download the app, you locate a scooter or bike and you start riding.

There are now thousands of free-floating e-scooters and bicycles in Brussels, operated by some 50 private service providers. This rapid proliferation of shared mobility services has also had some negative impacts, particularly on public space as the schemes are dockless and have no dedicated parking facilities.  Brussels welcomes these new mobility services but in order to ensure that they can benefit all and meet policy goals, the Brussels Parliament has unanimously adopted a new regulation for operators that want to launch shared dockless fleets of bikes, scooters or other new light vehicles such as delivery tricycles, mopeds, motorcycles with two parallel front wheels or hoverboards.

Floris Tack, head of social policy and legal affairs at the mobility and public works cabinet of Brussels Minister for Mobility Pascal Smet, explained the new regulation that entered into force on 1 February 2019 during the Polis Governance & Integration Working Group meeting held in Brussels on 25-26 February. The purpose is to create a level playing field for all companies that want to start a new shared mobility service in the city and to prevent any a posteriori penalty. Investments in micromobility are always welcome in Brussels, but providers must obtain a licence to operate.

Already active operators can obtain a licence until 1 September 2019. New operators will have to submit a request for licence, which will be processed within 6 weeks. Licences are valid for three years and any type of combustion-engine mobility service is prohibited. Companies must meet a number of conditions and technical requirements. They also have to share data and a minimum number of available vehicles is required.

Providers should also make sure that their users follow the road code and vehicles cannot park unconditionally anywhere in the city. Furthermore, to avoid too high concentrations of shared vehicles at certain locations, their numbers are limited around the city’s most popular places. Licences are open to any company that wishes to launch its services in Brussels and there is no limit on the number of permits that can be requested. The Brussels approach opts for a balanced framework, that empowers innovation coming from the rapidly changing mobility market while at the same time meeting the public interest and aligning with local mobility policy goals.

The text of the regulation is available here (in Dutch and French).