Europe is struggling with the increasing popularity of e-scooters, especially in its main cities, as reports of accidents and chaos have come in from all sides in recent weeks.
The most recent report of a man on an e-scooter dying in a traffic accident came from Paris only last weekend. The city is now proposing to ban them outright, AP reported on Tuesday, August 13th.
Other cities have cited more ideas to deal with the growing safety concerns, including issuing speeding tickets or to make users take a driving test.
Supporters say the electric scooters are environmentally friendly and practical, while critics decry a new nuisance to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers who are already battling for the limited space on city streets.
The numbers of reported injuries and accidents are hard to deny, but like with every new phenomenon, could be attributed to a lack of regulation and understanding at this point.
Politics have been called on to get in front of the problem and several countries’ leaders have made the topic a point on their agendas.
France's government met on Monday with the victims of scooter accidents as it prepares new rules. Paris alone has more free-floating scooter companies than the entire United States, according to a June study, and at least 20,000 whizzing through its historic streets.
Most are app-based, rented scooters that you pick up and drop off wherever you want, and that's especially appealing to tourists and teens. But victims' groups say these are exactly the users, who do not know French road rules and cause problems. They also cannot always be held liable for accidents, which makes legal implications tricky.
Berlin, meanwhile, legalised electric scooters only two months ago but had to quickly realise it needed tougher rules.
Last week, city officials announced plans for on-street parking zones for the battery-powered vehicles, which are often left haphazardly on sidewalks. German police said seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.
Belgium’s capital Brussels has also been inundated with e-scooters over the last year. The region is currently gathering information to streamline existing rules, after a major hospital said it is treating up to two injuries a day related to scooter incidents.
Madrid placed a ban on electric scooters in December 2018 after a 90-year-old pedestrian was killed by one. Police in the Spanish Capital recorded 22 accidents involving e scooters within 6 months when the three main hire firms began operating there. Eight of the accidents were pedestrians being run over by the 15 mile per hour (25kmh) silent machines. It is thought the ban will only be temporary and hire firms will be able to apply for licences again providing their machines and the apps meet recently imposed safety requirements.
Aside from the death in Madrid, two men are currently facing manslaughter charges in Barcelona. They allegedly killed an elderly pedestrian as she walked in a pedestrianised area with her zimmer frame. The men were using an e-scooter at the time.