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Electric scooters may require further regulation, says PPA spokesperson

Bolt scooters for rent in Tallinn.
Bolt scooters for rent in Tallinn. Source: Bolt

A Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) representative told ERR Monday that regulations on electric scooters are likely needed, as the popularity of the vehicles, in particular for rent, has soared in central Tallinn in recent weeks.

Two companies, Citybee and taxi hailing app firm Bolt (formerly Taxify), rolled out their services in Tallinn mid-June and they quickly caught on, with Citybee recently announcing it would be bringing 100 more scooters to the market.

Users simply unlock the scooter via an app, and pay per minute for use. A short tutorial on use is reportedly available via the app, for first-time riders. Safety equipment such as helmets are recommended, but not mandatory. Over short distances, the scooters work out cheaper than hailing a taxi.

According to a PPA spokesperson there are risks inherent from users under the influence of alcohol, however, as well as disruption to pedestrians and even medical first responders. The scooters have a maximum speed of at least 20 kph.

Head of the PPA northern prefecture office Varmo Rein said that medical attention had already been required in recent incidents, though no major accidents had taken place in Estonia yet.

One recent media report noted a user who was under the influence of alcohol had been involved in a collision with a pedestrian on Juhkentali Street in Tallinn; the scooter rider needed to present at the nearby Ida-Tallinn Hospital.

A recent incident in London saw a popular instagram personality who was riding a similar electric scooter killed in a collision she was involved in.

Bolt spokesperson Thomas Tammus reiterated that there had been no serious incidents or violations as yet, but that with the scooters' wide potential range (a fully-charged scooter can travel around 25 km without recharge), there are some concerns.

Rein also conceded that while ordinary, leg-powered bicycles and scooters are involved in more accidents, the tendency for scooter users to drink and ride was there.

"We are asking people here for an understanding of how to follow traffic rules so as not to endanger themselves and endanger others," Tammus added.

Scooter riders are pedestrians so far as current law goes

Varmo Rein noted that: "All this needs to be regulated in line with electric vehicles. I personally feel that it is a bit under-regulated at the moment. Life has evolved, but the law has not," he added.

So far as the Traffic Act 2013 is concerned, scooter users, like skateboarders, are simply pedestrians using a device which ordinary pedestrians are not obliged to leap out of the way of as they approach. Instead, it is the riders' responsibility to ensure they do not endanger pedestrians and prevent them from moving at their own pace.

Cycling on pavements at speed, including by personnel working for delivery companies, is also a common sight in Tallinn and the rest of Estonia.

Noted actor and musician Jüri Aarma was fatally hit by a train as he crossed a pedestrian level crossing in Tallinn in May. He was cycling and using his phone simultaneously, according to reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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