Police in Marbella have sealed off the office of a local company that rented out two-wheeled personal-mobility devices to tourists. The move comes against a background of a surge in usage of the devices, such as electric scooters and skateboards, in tourist sites along the coast by both visitors and locals, as well as increasing complaints about obstruction on pavements or dangerous driving.
This transport sector suffers from a legal vacuum. Users and operators have been complaining for some time that current Spanish law is not clear if they should be in cycle lanes, on the pavement or on the road, where other users frequently criticise them for causing a supposed nuisance.
In the absence of clear national or regional rules, at the start of the summer Marbella council decided to define the areas these type of two-wheeled electric vehicles could travel through. At the same time it conducted a review of the operating licences of the firms running rentals and tours using them.
Twelve companies, all located on or near the seafront in central Marbella and Puerto Banús, were inspected. Two failed the inspection of operating licences and one of these, in Puerto Banús, did not take steps to solve the problem, say officials. As a result, it has been shut down.
The town hall said that these types of business, even when they operate from hotels, which is the case of the firm affected, need a licence if they rent to the general public and not just hotel guests.
Councillor José Eduardo Díaz said that general action was being taken by the town hall against the companies "due to pubic alarm over the abusive or inappropriate use of this type of vehicles", although recent inspections were specifically about checking the operating licence he stressed.
Referring to the closed Banús firm, he added: "We don't like doing it, but seeing that the type of apparatus rented out put traffic in the area at risk as well as some under-age users of the vehicles, we have decided to act. What's more, there have been many complaints from local residents and businesses."
Marbella's new general bylaws against anti-social behaviour, which will finally be approved in the next full council session, also have a section on these so-called powered transporters.
But council sources have suggested that they may seek to extend the controls even further if the problem does not decrease or if more national or regional legislation isn't forthcoming.