‘Pedestrians on wheels’ become a problem for Kazan drivers

Legalised antilogics: scooters moving five times faster than pedestrians are recognised as pedestrians

‘Pedestrians on wheels’ become a problem for Kazan drivers
Photo: Инна Серова

Drivers risk becoming guilty of accidents involving scooters. Those who did not have time to slow down in front of citizens crossing the roadway on personal transporters are found guilty of not giving way to such “pedestrians”. If the traffic police came to this conclusion, it is likely that the court will find the motorist guilty. Experts warn that car drivers often have neither the physical nor the technical ability to prevent hitting those who move on scooters. Realnoe Vremya tried to find out about the features of the new classification of pedestrians, the reasons for the lack of control over traffic violations by scooters and the prospects of drivers to become responsible for accidents provoked by “pedestrians on wheels”.

Guilt “arrives” on a scooter

The propaganda department of the city traffic police recently provided a summary of traffic accidents in Kazan, which reported an accident involving a scooter. . . A “pedestrian” did not dismount and was crossing the road not at a pedestrian speed at all. It was 10:30 pm, it is already dusk in Kazan, and visibility at the exit to Tukaya Street is limited by buildings standing on both sides. In such conditions, the driver of the car should and has the opportunity to avoid hitting a real pedestrian, but to prevent a hit-and-run on a sudden “rider” on a scooter, his chances are low, experts comment on this case.

A driver of the car has little chance to prevent a hit-and-run on a sudden scooter “rider”. Инна Серова / realnoevremya.ru

“This rule is stupid!”

The head of the republican traffic police, Rustem Garipov, at the press conference on March 27, 2024, spoke with alarm about cyclists and scooters and even put forward a fantastic idea — to prevent accidents provoked by couriers, negotiate with employer companies to punish undisciplined deliverers with fines. At the same time, speaking about the increase in the number of fatal accidents on Tatarstan roads, he appealed to journalists with a request to “convey to every participant in the movement that mistakes should not be made on the road”. But it didn't come to the discussion of what to do for those who pay for other people's mistakes.

There is a traditionally formal approach to the issue of fault in road accidents involving citizens on personal transporters and bicycles, who themselves do comply with traffic regulations. Инна Серова / realnoevremya.ru

With a traditionally formal approach to the issue of guilt in an accident involving citizens on personal transporters and bicycles who not comply with traffic rules themselves, drivers, of course, have chances to fend off accusations and prospects to pay a tidy sum in compensation for damage to traffic violators who come under their wheels. But they will have to expend nerves, time and tidy sums on this — on lawyers and attorneys. And the chances of fighting back are small, because the court is the court that no one can guarantee its decision in favour of a certain party.

“In the last two or three years, while driving I am afraid not to have time to react to a sudden appearance of a courier or scooter," says Ramil Kh., a GAZelle driver. “I have a small truck, but no one cancelled the force of inertia, if a scooter suddenly comes under my wheels, there is a great risk of not being able to stop. Not because I don't want to give way, but because I just couldn't see them a second before, they were far away and out of sight. Rules are rules — I have to give way. But this rule is stupid, it was written by people who simply did not bother to imagine what it would result in in practice. If scooters were not equated with pedestrians, they would probably think what they were doing. And so they go with one thought in their head — “I have the right” — without looking around.

There are bans, raids, but no information

On March 1, 2023, the “bill on scooters” came into force in Russia — amendments to the traffic regulations that limited the speed of personal transporters to 25 km/h, prohibiting crossing the road on scooters, but obliging motorists to give way to scooters when leaving the adjacent territory or leaving the road. At the same time, the legislators forgot to take into account that it is five times more difficult to give way quickly to a personal transporter than to give way to a pedestrian, since the pedestrian's speed is 5 km/h, while the speed of the personal transporter is five times more, and it is simply not visible in advance. And they did not oblige scooter users (as well as bicycles) to install individual license plates on them, which completely blocked the slightest opportunity to find and punish traffic violators.

In April 2024, the ban on the movement of personal transporters and bicycles along the carriageway of a number of streets and in some parks came into effect in Kazan in order to improve traffic safety. There is no information on how it is observed and how often it is violated. Back in April, the first raids took place in Kazan on complaints from citizens about scooters scattered outside parking lots on sidewalks, the traffic police and the executive committee reported that 16 lying where they should not have been seized and sent for safekeeping.

In April 2024, first raids took place in Kazan following complaints from citizens about scooters scattered outside parking lots on sidewalks. Инна Серова / realnoevremya.ru

But it has not yet been reported how many accidents have occurred in Kazan with bicycles and scooters since the beginning of the season, in how many cases the fault of their drivers has been established, which violations prevail among them. As well as how many drivers or pedestrians driving with violations were stopped by traffic police officers and brought to justice since the beginning of the season. Realnoe Vremya has made a request about this to the press service of the traffic police of the city, the response will be published upon receipt.

What's wrong with the bill?

“A pedestrian on a scooter is just an oxymoron," says Vladlen Kopville, a lawyer for the Federation of Car Owners of Russia. “According to the current legislation, they are really considered pedestrians, and car drivers must give way to them. This does not take into account either the fact that the speed of the scooter is significantly higher than the speed of a pedestrian, or the fact that the scooter and the scooterer are poorly visible and difficult to notice in time, and taking into account the time that passes from receiving a signal from the brain about its appearance to pressing the brake and to a complete stop of the car, an impact can be considered inevitable even with a small the speed of the car.”

Kopvill suggested that as practice accumulates, the law will inevitably change towards increasing the responsibility of those who use scooters. He believes that it will be necessary to oblige scooters to use reflective patches and bracelets, install flashlights that make the scooter visible from afar, and introduce adequate liability for violations.

“But that's not the only problem," he said. “In our legislation, a car is a means of increased danger, and its driver, even without being found guilty of an accident, is obliged to compensate for the damage caused to the victims. In many countries, this simply does not exist — they figure out who is to blame, and they are the ones who pay. Until we have such changes, it is unlikely to be possible to restore order with this.”

Kazan lawyer Lavrenty Sichinava is convinced that vehicles should be recognised as any means that help a person move at a higher speed than on foot.

“Then the owner of such a vehicle will have other responsibilities," he says. “If a person knows that he falls under requirements higher than those for a pedestrian, the issue will be resolved.”

At the same time, the lawyer says, it should be possible to identify the offender on a scooter or bicycle. Today he commits a traffic violation and, if there was no accident, goes unpunished. If a scooter or bicycle has an individual number, as some legislators recently proposed, it will be “caught up” by a fine and violations will be prevented.

Inna Serova

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