Arrival of snow leads to reduction in e-scooter rental options

Two rental e-scooters parked in the snow.
Two rental e-scooters parked in the snow. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The two e-scooter rental firms currently operating in Tallinn and other Estonian towns have put their service on hiatus with the recent arrival of the first snows, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.

While drivers have been hurrying to install winter tires on their vehicles (mandatory from December 1 in any case), no such option exists for rental e-scooters, making snow and ice hazardous and also impractical for this means of transport.

The same applies to privately-owned e-scooters, which often have higher maximum speeds than the rental varieties.

Varmo Rein, head of traffic patrols at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) told AK that: "Needless to say, the PPA's recommendation is that you put [privately-owned e-scooters] in a winter apartment and take them out again in the spring."

The PPA received two reports of serious falls from e-scooters over the weekend as the snow arrived.

Rein said: "An e-scooter fall happened Saturday. Drunkenness probably played a role here, since the individual certainly gave a significant breathalyzer reading. Then on Sunday, another similar fall took place, likely the result of slippery conditions."

Jaan Kekišev, CEO of Tuul, one of the two major e-scooter rental firms in Estonia, said the company was still offering its services, but called for caution.

"By all means ride, but do so carefully, and wear a helmet. … select the correct riding speed, avoid sudden movements, and everything will be fine," he said.

Tuul cut its maximum speeds slightly to 19kmh (these are often automatically cut further if a user enters a pedestrianized zone, for instance).

In severe conditions, Tuul curtails its rental service temporarily, he added.

Competitor Bolt has put rentals on hiatus though e-scooters and e-bikes are still present in parking areas.

Trying to hire one via the app would result in a notification that the vehicles were weather-bound, however, while by December at the latest, e-scooter season is declared over.

Jaan Kekišev at Tuul said that studded tires provided little benefit, only really being effective bare ice which has not been covered in snow, grit, grime, refuse etc.

The cold weather did not deter two young e-scooter users, Hugo Sebastian and Oliver, who told AK that they hired scooters to do a spot of low-speed drifting on the pedestrianized Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) in central Tallinn, which, they said, was a safer option that doing so in traffic.

The pair said they were in favor of e-scooter rentals remaining open year-round.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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