City of Tallinn, rental firms in talks as e-scooter season arrives
With the new e-scooter season in full swing again as spring arrives, the City of Tallinn, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and rental operators, principally Bolt and Tuul, are once again discussing restrictions placed on the vehicles.
The City of Tallinn says it would like to restrict top speeds, currently 25km on rental vehicles, while the PPA is concerned about accidents – reporting that last year, there were 352 accidents nationwide involving e-scooters.
Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Tanel Kiik (Center) says that the current top speed of 25 km/h could be in place only on specific light traffic lanes (ie. cycle lanes) on the outskirts of the city.
Kiik, who is to return to the Riigikogu once it convenes next week, meaning he must relinquish his deputy mayoral post, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "If it were up to me, at Riigikogu or at governmental level, I think that the speed limit for light vehicles should be cut to 20 km/h on all roads within a settlement, especially in larger cities – even lower in some areas."
The city authorities are set to discuss this with the e-scooter rental firms last this week. The Transport Administration (Transpordiamet) will also be involved.
PPA Northern Prefecture traffic supervision departmental chief Taavi Kirss told AK that the PPA is somewhat apprehensive on the issue, as spring arrives.
"Compared with the previous year, we had a 63 percent increase in traffic accidents relating to e-scooters in the city of Tallinn," adding that with top speeds of up to 25 km/h, injuries can be significant, while the incidence of riding while intoxicated is also a major factor (other hazards include potholes and crumbling sidewalks-ed.).
Bolt, one of the major e-scooter service providers, says that it has taken steps such as imposing speed limits near schools (which means an e-scooter's speed will automatically drop as position locator places the vehicle near a school-ed.) and has removed e-scooters when they are parked inconsiderately, such as when blocking a sidewalk (concluding a ride requires photographing the parked e-scooter via the app-ed.).
Herni Arras, Bolt's head of state relations in the Baltic States, told AK that restrictions will likely not be in place long-term, and are simply a temporary measure until better riding conditions are put in place.
"If we take a look further into the future, we should hope for and expect the lifting of restrictions, as new cycle lanes get completed and the infrastructure is improved, making riding an e-scooter viable."
The above refers to rental e-scooters; privately-owned e-scooters are often far more powerful than the for-hire variety, though the top permitted speed remains 25km/h.
In some areas of central Tallinn such as Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square), rental e-scooter speeds will also drop, while parking is forbidden in much of the Old Town.
Similar conversations are being held in Latvia, in Finland and in Lithuania.
Further afield, a referendum, albeit with a turnout of just 8 percent, held in the French capital recently saw Parisians vote in favor of a ban on rental e-scooters on the city's streets.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera