E-scooters have been approved in Germany for a good three years. The initial outrage at the new tiny vehicles on Berlin’s streets has since evaporated. However, the problem has remained: Standing scooters are still concentrated in large numbers, especially in the city center, blocking sidewalks – and often becoming a tripping hazard.
After all sorts of lip service and voluntary agreements, the Senate is finally tackling the problem with more courage. From September, the providers will need a permit for every sharing vehicle, whether e-scooter, rental bike or scooter, combined with all sorts of rules and obligations.
Vehicles may no longer be parked at bus stops, crossings and in front of entrances and exits. On sidewalks, at least 2.30 meters of sidewalk must remain free on the left or right, otherwise the providers are obliged to repark the vehicles within four hours after reporting via a free hotline. This is an important step. Apparently, the previous self-commitments have not brought about any lasting improvement either for the companies or their customers. However, these rules are only as strict as the possibility of controlling them and punishing omissions.
There is a problem there: no concrete fines have been planned so far, nor is it clear under what circumstances providers will lose their license. In any case, the police and regulatory agencies lack the staff to monitor misconduct. The plans could become a paper tiger.
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In view of this, another solution suggests itself: to finally create sufficient parking space especially for sharing vehicles. The Senate and inner city districts had already agreed on this in 2019. But where are the parking spaces? If there were enough of them, providers and customers could be obliged to only park the small vehicles there. The masses of e-scooters on sidewalks would come to an end.
Technically that would be possible. Cities like Leipzig have long since implemented the concept. The pedestrian association and industry representatives such as the Berlin provider Tier have long been in favor of this.
The failure of state politics in recent years is all the more blatant. In the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg there are currently three parking areas and one in Pankow. Because there was no money for it from the Senate, according to the districts.
Apart from warm words, Bettina Jarasch’s predecessor as Senator for Transport, Regine Günther (both Greens), produced little. It is all the more important for the current office holder to finally create facts. Otherwise the problems with e-scooters will never end.