E-scooters: major innovation or hazard?
Germany gave scooters powered by electric batteries the green light in mid-June and in many other European countries they have been circulating for some time now. They have become a popular means of transport not just for tourists. But reports of serious accidents are fueling fears that they could have a negative impact on traffic, making it more complicated and dangerous.
New approach in urban planning necessary
Four hundred e-scooters have been in circulation on the streets of Tallinn for several weeks. Õhtuleht finds this worrying:
“If we look at what has gone on in other cities we must conclude that separating e-scooters and pedestrians would be the safest solution. But in Tallinn this would require a fundamental rethink in urban planning: the scooters shouldn't be moved to the lanes for cars (just look at the uncomfortable situation of cyclists between cars), but there's a clear shortage of bike lanes. So we should be all the more concerned by the fact that the new mayor, Mihhail Kõlvart, is clearly moving away from the vision of a pedestrian-friendly city and instead wants to promote motor traffic.”
A ban would be a sign of ineptitude
Commenting in România Liberă journalist Florin Budescu sees the scooters as a challenge that must be taken on:
“The drivers of e-scooters have the sensation of being a machine. They drive alongside and between cars and behave as if they could keep up with them, thus creating huge traffic problems. Because e-scooters are so small they are difficult to see in rearview mirrors and can be hit by a car at any moment. But I am utterly against their being banned. The local authorities must keep pace with the times and create special lanes for bikes and e-scooters. That's the solution. A ban, by contrast, is a sign of an inability to manage the situation. And those who don't keep pace with the times and find solutions (such as codes of conduct in the road traffic regulations ...) will bear the responsibility for the victims to come.”
Tourists driving around like maniacs
Mladá fronta dnes curses the trendy vehicles:
“They first appeared in Prague just under a year ago. To put it mildly, they're a disaster. The locals never use them to get to work or school or to go shopping. It's mostly young tourists who use them - just for fun. They drive around like maniacs, even in the densest traffic. There are rules for all other means of transport, but not for e-scooters. The carelessness of their users is also apparent in how they are parked. They just leave them wherever they feel like it - mostly in the middle of the pavement. The businesses that rent them out now want to urge users to be more considerate. But that won't change anything. The problems are written into the e-scooters' DNA.”
The wrong mindset
By contrast Fora.ie argues that Europe's major cities can't afford to miss out on the advantages of new technologies:
“In e-scooters we have a technology that's potentially hugely useful in the battle to ease congestion and to accomplish the simple aim of making Dublin an easy city to move around. … The people are speaking with their feet: e-scooters are a mode of transport that's both useful and wanted in Dublin. … New technologies such as e-scooters are regularly billed as 'disruptive'. But that type of thinking needs to be flipped on its head. The mindset when it comes to e-scooters needs to change from 'should these be allowed' to 'how can we embrace them and fully capitalise on the benefits that they clearly can bring.'”
Rzeczpospolita sees the tough competition in the e-scooter sector as a problem:
“The latest explosion of an e-scooter battery in Warsaw's Gocław district and a similar incident in Poznań have shone a spotlight on the safety of these vehicles, which are so popular this season. ... A quick look at Youtube will reveal dozens of videos of similar explosions uploaded by Internet users everywhere - from China to the US. The reason, as experts in the sector have confirmed, is above all the e-scooters' poor quality. The cheapest e-ones on the Chinese market are up to ten times cheaper than the 'originals', which especially encourages people for whom the price is the main criterion to buy them.”