Police to monitor summertime e-scooter usage in Tallinn

A collection of Bolt and Tuul e-scooters obstructing a sidewalk in Tallinn.
A collection of Bolt and Tuul e-scooters obstructing a sidewalk in Tallinn. Source: ERR

While the number of accidents involving e-scooters has been rising, the arrival of the high season means more and more vehicles are to be in circulation in the Estonian capital soon, as companies offering rental services increase availability.

Hannes Kullamäe, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) northern prefecture traffic monitoring authority told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "There have already been 44 accidents involving scooters and in which people have been injured this year, in which people have been injured."

"Unfortunately, compared with last year, traffic accidents in this area are on the rise," Kullamäe added.

The PPA is planning to repeat spot-checks that it conducted last year, Kullemäe said.

"We will be paying more attention to e-scooters this year, as we did last year," he said.

Many of the problems arise from users overestimating their abilities, he said, or selecting an inappropriate speed for the situation, with alcohol also a factor, while head injuries can be severe if the rider is not wearing a helmet.

AK conducted a vox pop on the streets of Tallinn's Balti Jaam/Telliskivi district, a hot spot for e-scooter use.

One respondent, Lars, said: "Things could be safer, but I think that will be a long journey," adding that riding more on cycle lanes might help.

Another, Maiken, said: "Given the conditions of the streets here, it's not really safe for any rider or an e-scooter rider to travel here."

"Perhas we should look at how the lanes progress towards intersections, in a way that there would be no e-scooter riders and cyclists in cars' blind spots," she added.

Another member of the public, Allan, agreed that Tallinn's streets "I think the problem is mainly with the city's infrastructure or that these roads aren't very safe. That's the main thing. But by itself, I don't think it's a particular big threat," Allan said.

The two major operators of rental e-scooters, Bolt and Tuul, are offering around a 1,000 vehicles each, with a spokesperson for the an e-scooter manufacturer saying that use will be around 50-60 percent higher than last year.

Both companies use a downloadable app which enables customers to locate, reserve, unlock, ride and then park the e-scooter. The latter procedure has also met with some consternation, if and when an e-scooter is improperly parked and blocks a thoroughfare to pedestrians and others.

Kristjan Maruste, spokesperson for Comodule, which manufactures e-scooters, said that his company, as well as Bolt, provide a discount on rental when parking in designated areas – which sometimes double-up as recharging zones – though conceded more could be done as well.

Added to the two rental firms is the use of privately-owned e-scooters, which are often considerably more powerful than the rented variants.

Meanwhile in Latvia, authorities have launched an e-scooter safety and etiquette campaign with the fairly self-explanatory title: "Don't be a monkey, ride like a person", public broadcaster LSM reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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