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Rise in accidents on unregulated crossings involving e-scooters, bicycles

Pedestrian crossing on Reidi tee in Tallinn.
Pedestrian crossing on Reidi tee in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The warmer weather has been accompanied by a surge in the use of e-scooters and other two-wheeled means of transport, but this has also seen a rise in accidents at unregulated pedestrian crossings, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.

One of the primary factors is that drivers, while not necessarily at fault, are unaware of taking into account that scooters and bike riders, unlike pedestrians, often rush out on to a crossing without slowing or paying adequate attention.

Raul Annuk, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) North Prefecture's emergency procedure group: "Bit by bit, the proportion of road users in traffic who use both bicycles and e-scooters is rising, but on the other hand, it is still the case that people are not so well acquainted with the traffic rules."

"Perhaps the traffic law could establish a principle that a light scooter, or a pedestrian crossing the road with a bicycle, does not have the right of way over a road vehicle, with the exception of crossing a road into which the driver is turning," Annuk went on.

Two minor incidents at the weekend saw an e-scooter struck by a car in the Tallinn district of Mustamäe, on a crosswalk set aside for children crossing the road, AK reports, while in Tartu, a young woman rode into a van at a crossing in Tartu (both riders made it ok-ed.).

The PPA says across all incidents of this type, culpability is split around 50:50, between road vehicle drivers and e-scooter riders or cyclists crossing at an unregulated pedestrian crossing.

A Tallinn-based driving instructor, Ilja Lomtev, told AK that he sees incidents which make him want to facepalm almost every day in traffic in the capital.

One issue, he said, is that drivers must take into account that e-scooter and other scooter riders, cyclists etc. do not always know how to act properly in traffic – even if the driver is in the right – and whose riding etiquette is confined to discerning the difference between red and green colors, often leading to a last gasp charge at a regulated crossing in an effort to beat the red light, regardless of the well-being of other members of the public.

"They are light vehicle riders, they may think that, at a crossing, when it's green I can go and when it's red I must stop, but in the meantime, if they see a green light, given their speed is not reduced to that of a pedestrian (which in fact it should be-ed.) it is up to the driver to check whether they will make it before the light changes, or not," he went on.

This means that e-scooter riders and cyclists often assume that a driver will give way to them which, regardless of whether the driver would plan to or not, is a moot point in that the driver hasn't had a real chance to even see them.

Drivers can be culpable too, Raul Annuk noted – for instance when turning into a road on which a cyclist, e-scooter rider, or for that matter pedestrian, is crossing, and in which case the latter would have the right of way.

Overall, the situation is set to stay and it is up to all road users to get along and to ensure their own and others' safety, Lomtov went on, whether optimistically or not.

In Tallinn, the situation has been greatly affected by the incidence of several large-scale roadworks projects all falling at the same time, which has meant traffic reduced to single lanes, road closures, re-routed public transport and temporary crossings. This seems to have led to frayed tempers at times, and a somewhat more generous interpretation on when to stop at an unregulated (or regulated) crossing and when not, on the part of some drivers.

The presence of food couriers from companies and who often use bicycles or even e-scooters, working to deliver their consignment as soon as possible and often by using the public sidewalk, is another peril worth being aware of as a pedestrian or road user.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaale kaamera'

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