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The rise of e-scooters in Europe: a green solution to increased urban demand on public transport?


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In a bid to reduce their environmental footprint, many European cities have found a solution to the increasing urban demands on transportation in the form of e-scooters.

In many European cities, you can already rent a bike within minutes of finding a bike station by simply scanning a QR code. Like the Santander bikes across London, where you can get a free 30-minute ride, the e-scooter presents a quick and green alternative to public transport.

Better yet, it is enjoyable on a warm or sunny day.

Image credit: Markus Spiske at Pexels

E-scooters, or electronic scooters, have become more widely available in the past few years in European cities including Paris and Berlin. Companies such as Lime and Bird have headed the drive to introduce more e-scooters to the streets of Paris, which is an easily accessible and welcome solution for many.

Yet, e-scooters come with a warning. Reaching speeds of up to 12-18mph, they can be a real concern for pedestrians on the streets too.

In November 2018, a 90-year old pedestrian was killed in Spain after being hit by two men on an electric scooter travelling at approximately 18mph, according to El Pais.

Since then, the Spanish government has introduced new regulations to try and prevent any more fatal incidents.

The boom of electric scooters has caused new and unexpected issues for cities, where old laws concerning e-scooter transport cause a lack of clarity.

Earlier this year the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted: “Pavements are only for pedestrians!” The mayor was referring to new legislation that citizens could be fined up to 135 euros if caught using an e-scooter on any pavements in Paris.

The search for a safe solution for both pedestrians and e-scooters continues, since not all cities have bike lanes as a good alternative for e-scooter riders.

What you need to know before using an e-scooter

Before you try out the electric scooters for yourself, there are a few things you must do to make sure you are not faced with any hefty fines.

First of all, make sure you read up on each country’s rules and regulations regarding electric scooters, as they can differ massively, even across Europe. For instance, the Bird e-scooters in Paris require you to have a driving licence and be at least 18 years of age. Until recently, you had to be at least 21 years of age to ride an e-scooter in Berlin, a requirement which has been reduced to 18 years old in line with other European cities.

There seems to be no set rule on whether or not you need to be wearing a helmet when riding an e-scooter, but sensible advice would be to wear one just as if you were cycling.

Make sure you have comprehensive insurance before going abroad in case of an accident. It is also important to check the type of cover you have since many travel insurance companies exclude cover for events that happen after excessive alcohol consumption. Of course, it is not recommended to use e-scooters (or any vehicle) after any alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, if you enjoyed riding an e-scooter along the Seine in Paris or to take in the historic scenery of Berlin so much that you purchased your own, it should be noted that e-scooters are not permitted on UK roads or bike lanes. The DVLA requires all electronic vehicles to be taxed and registered.

Lead image credit: Brett Sayles on Pixabay

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