Driving ban for classic scooters?

Created by Ralf Jodl at 14:07 on July 1, 2021

Are Vespas and Lambrettas on the brink of extinction?

A storm of indignation swept through the classic car scene in Germany on 22 May this year. The reason for this was the legislative resolution passed by the German Bundestag the previous day - printed matter 432/21: "Fourth Act amending the Road Traffic Act and other road traffic regulations". Lovers of vehicles with classic combustion engines, including vintage Vespas and Lambrettas, were annoyed by an amendment to Section 6(4)(2) of the Road Traffic Act (StVG).

The law reads:

§6 paragraph 4
(2) The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is authorised, insofar as it is necessary to avert dangers to the safety or ease of traffic on public roads, to issue ordinances without the consent of the Bundesrat on the following:
1. to avert dangers arising from traffic on public roads,
2. for the protection
a) from harmful effects on the environment caused by vehicles, or
b) the population in pedestrian areas or traffic-calmed areas, the residential population or those seeking recreation from emissions emanating from traffic on public roads, in particular to protect against noise or exhaust fumes

The classic car scene was appalled and only a few days later, on 24 May 2021, launched a petition on the "openPetition" portal with the demand: "Owners of vehicles that were registered before stricter new legal regulations were introduced must not be disadvantaged by subsequent new regulations. For example, stricter exhaust emission standards or noise protection limits must not be applied retrospectively to vehicles that have already been registered and/or restrict their range of movement."

The aim of this petition is

a) To have points 1 - 4 of paragraph 4 of section 6 deleted in their entirety or alternatively
b) To have points 2 and 4 of paragraph 4 of section 6 deleted in their entirety or alternatively
c) To enshrine the protection of existing vehicles that have already been registered (regardless of whether they have been deregistered in the meantime) in the Road Traffic Act.

58.034 (as of 01.07.21) people support the petition with their digital signatures and occasionally engage in heated discussions on the topic. Fear of arbitrary government action is spreading: Is the government now allowed to categorically ban the use of classic Vespas and Lambrettas, for example, in order to protect people from noise and emissions?

Lawyers and politicians give the all-clear

The ADAC's lawyers took up the matter, together with the Historic Vehicles Working Group (AGHF) and the Parliamentary Group on Automotive Heritage (PAK). Carsten Müller, Chairman of the PAK and CDU Member of Parliament, finally announced the results of the inspections and tests in a press release:

"There is no threat of driving bans for historic vehicles. Technical cultural assets on two, three, four or even more wheels will continue to be experienced on our roads. The latest amendment to the Road Traffic Act does not change this. Everything that is possible today on the basis of the Road Traffic Act was already possible before the amendment. The law has merely been sorted, formulated more simply and summarised. The amendment was primarily of a regulatory nature, as already emphasised in the purpose of the law. In terms of content, only the lowering of the age to 15 years for the AM16 driving licence was changed. Beyond that, no new wording was added to the law and no tightening of the law was introduced. A petition that is spreading virally in the scene misjudges the content and objectives of the amendment law adopted by the German Bundestag on 20 May 2021 and specifically the content of the criticised section 6 paragraph 4. The excitement that the amendment to the law now threatens driving bans for classic cars is completely unfounded.

Even if nothing has changed in terms of substantive law with the amendment, the scene must always be aware of its responsibility for the hobby. Majorities for the reorganisation of laws can change. So far, there is a majority in the German Bundestag in favour of keeping historic vehicles, motorbikes and commercial vehicles on the roads so that they can be experienced. Society also has a largely positive attitude towards classic cars. This support must be preserved through considerate participation in road traffic. The following should therefore always apply to all active participants: The best way to convey the joy of our hobby is by travelling considerately, acting prudently and refraining from unnecessary actions from the outset."

However, owners of historic vehicles are not reassured by this; they fear for their freedom and their hobby, even if Oliver Luksic, the FDP parliamentary group's transport and digital infrastructure spokesman in the German Bundestag, plays it down: "The law does not include driving bans for classic cars or motorbikes. This would require a corresponding ordinance passed with the approval of the Bundesrat. As is already the case today. The revised Road Traffic Act changes nothing in this respect. We clearly reject the constant debates on traffic bans. Speed limits, diesel or motorbike bans are neither progressive nor sustainable. We want decisions with a sense of proportion instead of blanket restrictions on private transport. This is also the premise on which we will base future changes to the StVO."

The petition has already reached its target of 50,000 signatures, but the outcome of the debate remains to be seen. The only thing that is certain is that all classic Vespas and Lambrettas are currently still allowed to ride on German roads, and that is a good thing. We do not expect a nationwide ban on our beloved two-wheelers to become acute in the next few years, but we will keep our eyes open and keep you up to date. Until then, it's still: Ride it like you stole it!

Two-strokes are still part of the cityscape in Germany.
Ralf Jodl
Ralf Jodl

Ralf is managing director and co-founder of SIP Scootershop. He has been riding Vespa since 1990 and even today the working day starts best for him when he rides to the SIP headquarters in Landsberg on his Rally 200. Otherwise he owns a 180 SS, a 160 GS and a VM2 fenderlight Vespa.