Safety course addresses poor e-scooter etiquette, safety
Two separate electric scooter riding exercises held in Tallinn Monday aimed not only to test individual riders skills, but also to highlight the issue of safety when using a mode of transport particularly common on the capital's streets, as well as those of other towns, during the summer months.
The events were held on Stroomi beach in North Tallinn, and Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) in central Tallinn, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday
Participants had to negotiate a course with tight twists and turns, marked out by traffic cones, and other obstacles, with some finding it quite hard.
"As a first time rider, this is absolutely incredible. As I say, this is the first time I've ever ridden this type of an electric scooter, I haven't ridden over a ramp before," one rider, Erki-Henri, told AK.
"It's a good thing I tried one lap beforehand. I can't imagine how people can ride in pairs with this at all, that's absolutely incredible. But then some people are more skilled than I am," he went on.
Another participant, Lembi, said she found maintaining balance hard. "I know that if you maneuver more slowly with a scooter, this is in theory more difficult. It moves forward very quickly. If you hit the gas a little, it tends to jump forward, which I think is the most difficult aspect. Plus of course there are the so-called curbs there," she said, referring to obstacles placed on the course which were intended to replicate some of Tallinn's more well-known challenges in reality, not least for scooter and bike riders.
The city center and North Tallinn have posted the highest number of incidents involving e-scooters so far this year, with the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) northern prefecture as a whole recording over 70 traffic accidents involving the vehicles in the first half of the year, with close to 80 related injuries reported.
Over half of these incidents have happened since the end of May, though summer tends to see a surge in e-scooter usage in any case.
Most accidents related to scooter users' inability to control the vehicle and involve falls related to potholes in the road, or curbstones.
Mari-Liis Mölder, accident prevention specialist at the Northern Prefecture's city center station, said that: "The most important thing is that if we get a maximum speed of 25 km / h, with a change in the law, then this maximum speed does not always have to be pursued and you have to drive more slowly.
"Look out for pedestrians, other riders in front. You just have to be careful, and, of course, to check that the scooter is in order," Mölder added.
A large proportion of e-scooter journeys at least in Tallinn involve one of two major rental firms, Bolt, and Tuul. The scooters can be located, booked and paid for via a downloadable smartphone app, and left on the street when finished.
Bolt's coverage includes some smaller towns such as Rakvere and Viljandi, as well as Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu.
Some restrictions apply as to where scooters can be left at the end of a ride, and instructions are provided, if not always followed, for leaving an unused scooter so that the sidewalk or other thoroughfare is not always blocked to other users. Scooter hire is also barred to minors.
However, while the PPA recommends riders wear helmets, most riders do not do so; responsible use of an e-scooter on sidewalks where others, including the elderly and children, have an equal right to the space, as a whole is down to individual riders' consciences. Riding a scooter under the influence of alcohol is also forbidden.
A fatality involving an e-scooter rider and a truck was reported last year in Tartu.
While rented scooters have their top speed automatically capped at 25 km/h, or lower in some areas, such as Vabaduse väljak itself, privately-owned scooters are often much more powerful and consequently faster.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte