BERLIN, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Electric scooters with a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour will be allowed to be driven on German cycle paths after receiving approval from the German Bundesrat on Friday.
The federal council approved a decree from the German Ministry of Transport that would allow e-scooters in German cities, with certain security restrictions on the original proposal.
According to the Bundesrat's decision, electric scooters will not be allowed on footpaths in German cities but will have to use bike lanes.
Furthermore, contrary to the original decree, e-scooters will generally only be permitted for people aged 14 and over. Initially, Germans as young as 12 years of age were considered eligible to ride e-scooters that moved slower than 20 km an hour.
The German government said it wanted to implement the Bundesrat's changes in security rules as quickly as possible.
German Minister for Transport Andreas Scheuer told the German press agency (dpa) that it was "important that we reached a quick and, for all road users, good agreement".
The e-scooters "are finally off to a good start before the summer break", said the German transport minister.
Following the approval by the Bundesrat, the Deutsche Bahn (DB) announced that passengers would be allowed to take their electric scooters on all long-distance trains free of charge.
"These should also contribute to making it easier for our passengers to get to the station," said Berthold Huber, member of DB's executive board for passenger transport.
Environmentalists saw e-scooters as part of a transition towards environmentally-friendly traffic but called for more debate about which means of transport should be entitled to which spaces in German cities.
"Anyone who wants to strengthen or newly establish means of transport away from the car must give them additional space. And this space must be taken away from car traffic," said Jens Hilgenberg, transport policy officer at Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND e.V.).
Hilgenberg also took a critical view of e-scooter rental systems, noting that experience from other European cities suggested that many scooters were "apparently replaced and scrapped after just three months".
The General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) criticized that the current infrastructure was already insufficient for bikes, let alone introducing new modes of transport.
"We say: twice as much space and high quality paths for cycling, then it is also possible to ride bikes, pedelecs and e-scooters together," said Burkhard Stork, federal managing director of the ADFC.
For electric scooters with smaller wheels and high acceleration, many of Germany's bike lanes would also be "really uncomfortable and dangerous," Stork added.
A recent survey by the Forsa Institute showed that three out of four Germans expected e-scooters to cause more conflicts between road users.
Nonetheless, a majority of Germans surveyed also believed that the e-scooter was a "good opportunity to improve people's mobility".