Ban them outright. Issue speeding tickets. Make users take a driving test. From Paris to Berlin, European cities are searching for solutions to the two-wheeled phenomenon that’s fast transforming cityscapes worldwide: Electric scooters.
Proponents call them a leap into the future, an exhilarating, app-based way to zip from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower without generating planet-choking pollution.
Rubbish, say, critics, noting growing numbers of injuries and even deaths involving e-scooters. They decry a new nuisance to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers who are already battling for limited space on city streets.
Across the U.S., cities are also struggling to regulate companies renting the vehicles and keep riders safe. Here’s what some European countries are doing about it:
France’s government met 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 of the vehicles 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 users don’t know French road rules and can’t always be held liable for accidents. One scooter driver has been killed in Paris and scores injured this year.
Paris imposes 135-euro ($150) fines for riding e-scooters on the sidewalk. The mayor wants to limit scooter speeds to 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) in most areas, and 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph) in areas with heavy foot traffic. She plans to limit the number of operators to three and cap the number of scooters.
New rules expected in September will expand those limits nationwide and include potential speeding fines up to 1,500 euros ($1,680). Critics say current proposals don’t go far enough. Some want age limits for riders, and to require them to take driving tests and have insurance, so that governments don’t have to pay for medical care or other damage they cause.
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