The place was well chosen. Unter den Linden, at the corner of Wilhelmstrasse. There are masses of e-scooters from a wide variety of suppliers or lying around here. Against this backdrop, an alliance of six organizations – senior citizens, disabled people and pedestrians – demanded on Thursday: “E-scooters off the sidewalk.” Alexander Ahrens had hung a poster on his wheelchair: “Unregulated fun mobility endangers disabled people”.
On Tuesday, Berlin’s Transport Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) presented the changes to the Berlin Roads Act, which will apply from September 1, 2022. According to the Senate, “sharing mobility should be organized in the capital in the future”. To this end, the House of Representatives changed the Berlin Roads Act in August 2021.
“Sharing mobility plays an important role in the mobility turnaround, but it also needs clear rules in large cities with limited space,” said Jarasch.
The most important rule is: For e-scooters and rental bicycles, there should be more designated parking spaces in previous car parking spaces – then there will be a parking ban in their vicinity.
Conversely, this means: Everywhere else the sidewalk may continue to be filled up. The administration does not give a timetable. Jarasch only spoke of “achieving the goals successively”.
This is clearly too slow for the Bundnis um Fuss e.V. “There is a risk of chaos on Berlin’s sidewalks for another 15 years,” said alliance spokesman Roland Stimpel. The devices can be parked on sidewalks “for an indefinitely long time,” says Stimpel, and there is also no upper limit for the number of e-scooters.
“The city can continue to be flooded without restraint,” said Stimpel. According to him, the alliance represents one million people in Berlin. Stimpel criticized that the rental companies and their customers had priority over the “security and mobility needs of millions of people in Berlin”.
The blind Bedia Kunz reported how she fell over a scooter at the end of May that was in the way near her Friedenau apartment. She filed a complaint – and found out from the police that the scooter was allowed to stand there. Nothing will change with the new law. Wheelchair user Ahrens Ahrens reported that Gendarmenmarkt was so crowded with scooters and bicycles that he had to drive on the street.
Alliance spokesman Roland Stimpel therefore demands: E-scooters should only be allowed with fixed, mandatory parking spaces. As a role model, Stimpel named metropolises all over the world that have restricted or completely banned rentals – such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan and San Francisco. In Singapore it was completely banned, in Copenhagen in the entire city center. Amsterdam never allowed the rental.
So far, there have been hardly any fixed stations for e-scooters in Berlin, the alliance complains, and the expansion is taking place far too slowly. Paris quickly got the problem under control with 1,400 stations for 20,000 scooters.
Berlin would only make it “at the current rate in 15 years”. The alliance sees the plans as a violation of Section 11 of the Berlin Roads Act: “Permission should be denied if people with disabilities would be significantly impaired by the special use in the exercise of public use.”
The traffic administration emphasized that the regulations have not yet been finalized in all details, negotiations are continuing with the providers. From September 1st there will be the legal basis that all sharing offers on public roads – like all other businesses – require a so-called special use permit along with the corresponding fees. This permit must be applied for and approved.
Conditions and incentives can then be defined later in so-called ancillary provisions or via the amount of the fee, according to a statement from the administration.