E-scooter service providers set up EU trade group in Brussels

E-scooters have taken off around Europe, but have become a nuisance in some cities [RONALD WITTEK / EPA-EFE]

A new trade EU association for micro mobility services was launched on Tuesday (2 February) to unite eight e-scooter operators such as Lime and Bolt. Abandoned scooters and safety concerns are likely to top their policy agenda.

The group, called Micro-Mobility for Europe, aims to help shape policy around e-scooters in European cities and support the transition to zero-emission transport in cities.

The coalition brings together eight companies offering e-scooters for rent: Bird, Bolt, Dott, FreeNow, Lime, TIER, Voi and Wind.

E-scooters have been available to buy privately for many years already, but their popularity has taken off in the last few years as mobile phone apps allow people to rent them. These sharing schemes are now available across over 100 cities worldwide, mostly in Europe and America.

In Europe, members of the new trade association operate in over 20 European countries across more than 100 cities.

Micro-Mobility for Europe argues that e-scooters address issues like congestion and cut down on tailpipe emissions, which are both essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down air pollution in cities.

“As the vast majority of public space is currently dedicated to car infrastructure, we need to rethink how public space in cities is used,” said Alexander Jung, Sr. Public Policy Associate at Bird and Co-Chair of Micro-Mobility for Europe.

The group also plans to share data generated by their members to help cities better understand, regulate and plan traffic flow and public transport.

“Micro-mobility has revolutionised urban mobility and established itself as an essential alternative to personal car ownership and use,” said Catriona Meehan, co-chair of the coalition and representative of Wind.

“The coalition is a key milestone in working together as one industry towards a healthier, more sustainable and less congested future for European cities,” she added.

But the rise of e-scooters has not come without problems. There are concerns over lacking regulation and the impact of scooters left on pavements, particularly for wheelchair users and those with vision impairments.

Most sharing schemes are dockless, leading to scooters being abandoned across cities, a problem in European capitals, like Madrid, Brussels and Paris. The French capital made it illegal to park e-scooters on pavements and in parks in 2019.

There are also safety concerns around e-scooters. In 2019, Germany legalised the use of e-scooters limited to 20 kilometres per hour. Users had to be over 14 – younger than Paris and Brussels, which both require users to be over 18 – and are not required to wear helmets.

In the same year, Brussels reported its first fatal accident involving an e-scooter.

Paris loses patience with e-scooters

France’s capital city will make it illegal to park e-scooters on pavements and in parks. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also ordered a speed limit cut to address the rising accident rate.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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