E-scooters and electric bicycles are now a familiar sight on Switzerland's roads. However, many people are unsure about the precise rules that apply to e-bikes and e-scooters. Am I allowed to ride an e-scooter on the sidewalk? How fast is my electric bike allowed to go? And what happens if I don’t obey all the rules? Our legal expert answers the key questions.
What counts as an e-bike in Switzerland?
An e-bike is a bicycle with an electric motor that assists the rider as they pedal. In Switzerland, a distinction is made between two types of electric bike: fast and slow e-bikes.
How are e-bikes legally classified in Switzerland?
It depends on the type of e-bike:
What particular rules apply to slow electric bikes?
Slow e-bikes are basically treated in the same way as normal bicycles. This means:
Unlike normal bikes, however, every e-bike, regardless of category, must have a bell and must also be ridden with lights on at all times. This rule is particularly important for owners of sports e-bikes (electric mountain bikes, electric racing bikes, & electric gravel bikes), because electric sports bikes are often delivered without any integrated lights.
You must be at least 14 years old to ride a slow e-bike. A category M driving license (moped license) is required for riders up to the age of 16. From the age of 16, no license is required for a slow e-bike.
And which traffic regulations apply to fast e-bikes?
There are several things to remember for faster e-bikes:
Further information may be found on the website of the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) (currently not available in english).
What about e-scooters? Which rules apply to them?
E-scooters approved for use on Swiss roads are treated in the same way as normal bicycles. They may therefore be ridden on cycle paths and roads, but not on the sidewalk. Like slow e-bikes, e-scooters may not be ridden before the age of 14. E-scooter riders aged between 14 and 16 also require a category M driving license.
What about riding on cycle paths? Am I allowed to ride any e-bike or e-scooter on cycle paths?
Yes. You are not only allowed to ride on cycle paths – you are required to use them. That's because the sidewalk is out of bounds – for bicycles, e-bikes, and e-scooters.
What should I keep in mind when taking a child with me on my e-bike? Are child seats and bicycle trailers permitted?
Both child seats and bicycle trailers are permitted. When using a trailer or child seat, take care to select products that are approved for the purpose. Up to three children may be transported at the same time by an e-bike: one in the child seat and two in the bicycle trailer. Although children are not obliged to wear a helmet on slow e-bikes, we strongly recommend that they wear one – after all, an accident with an e-bike can quickly turn serious. Children being transported by a fast e-bike must wear a helmet.
Regarding helmets: Is wearing a helmet mandatory for e-bikes and e-scooters?
Wearing a helmet is not mandatory for slower e-bikes and e-scooters. Anyone using a fast e-bike must wear a helmet.
Is insurance mandatory for electric bikes and e-scooters?
Only fast e-bikes require a number plate and vignette, and therefore also liability insurance. Slow e-bikes and e-scooters are exempt from this requirement. However, most liability insurance policies cover damage caused when riding a bike or e-scooter anyway, – including liability insurance from AXA.
Does my personal liability insurance cover damage and accidents with an e-bike or e-scooter?
Here again, it depends which type you are riding. Anyone using a fast e-bike must have liability insurance before the electric bike can be registered. Damage caused by a slow e-bike or an e-scooter is insurable under personal liability insurance and is usually included with the policy. However, “usually” is the magic word here, so we recommend that you contact your insurer and clarify your cover before acquiring a slow e-bike or e-scooter. If it is not automatically included in the policy, cover for damage caused by slow electric bikes and e-scooters should be added. Also, anyone who tinkers with their e-bike or scooter and modifies its performance is putting their insurance coverage at risk. In those circumstances they would be uninsured in the event of an accident.
Do the same laws apply in neighboring countries as in Switzerland?
No, different countries have different laws. So you should be sure to check the legal situation before using an e-scooter or e-bike abroad. Gather detailed information before taking your e-bike on holiday – otherwise your cycling tour could end up being very expensive indeed should you incur a fine.
What should I watch out for if I buy an e-scooter or e-bike in the EU and want to ride it in Switzerland?
When purchasing a product in another country, you should ensure that it complies with the requirements specified by FEDRO. If it does, it may be used in Switzerland. In general, we recommend that you contact FEDRO before purchasing an e-scooter or e-bike abroad or ordering one online. Not all the products available in the EU comply with Swiss regulations.
Can I ride my e-scooter with a second person on board?
Yes and no. For e-scooters, the manufacturer specifies whether the scooter is designed to carry one or more people. If it is designed for use by two people at the same time, there is nothing to prevent this legally. However, since almost all e-scooters in Switzerland are designed for use by one person only, they must not be ridden by two people at the same time. Anyone caught ignoring this rule will have to pay a fine of CHF 20.
Am I allowed to park my e-scooter on the sidewalk?
It depends. The same rule applies to e-scooters, e-bikes, and normal bikes: they may be parked on the sidewalk as long as a minimum of 1.5 m is left free for pedestrians. Parking an e-scooter in the middle of the sidewalk is not permitted.
What are the fines for failing to comply with the rules on e-scooters?