Especially in the mornings on the weekends, they stand and lie around again: e-scooters that revelers carelessly fall into the next hedge after the ride or simply leave in the middle of the sidewalk and in front of house entrances. "E-scooters have not improved mobility, but rather impede and endanger millions of people," complains Roland Stimpel from the pedestrian lobby Fuss e.V. "They are driven illegally on sidewalks and parked recklessly." Many cities have now declared war on the parking chaos, others are currently working on a solution.
Around 6,000 electric scooters from five providers are on the move in Nuremberg - and can be parked anywhere at the destination after the ride. Bavaria's second largest city is now putting a stop to this by setting up around 290 collective parking spaces, prohibiting parking elsewhere in the city center and limiting the number of e-scooters.
According to the mobility department, Munich had already created 43 parking spaces for e-scooters last spring. According to the city of Augsburg, it is working on a similar concept.
Nuremberg goes one step further: According to the traffic planning office, the rental companies will need a special use permit in the future. For example, they must undertake to remove illegally parked vehicles within six hours. They also have to pay fees - and thus finance the collective parking spaces.
Cities such as Leipzig, Frankfurt and Münster also rely on a special use permit. In Münster, for example, the providers had to pay a fee for each scooter and received a ticket for incorrectly parked vehicles, explains the head of the regulatory office, Norbert Vechtel. "We have had a dramatic improvement in the situation since spring 2022." The city of Frankfurt also speaks of clear successes, but still wants to have the technology improved: because too many scooters did not land on the parking lots due to the imprecise positioning system, but only near them.
Legal and technical issues
The German Association of Cities sees the federal and state governments more required. "We need clear rules of the game," says General Manager Helmut Dedy. To do this, all countries would have to give cities the opportunity to request a special use permit for e-scooters in public spaces. Without this, there is always a risk for the cities that the providers will challenge the special use in court. In addition, the federal government must adapt the road traffic regulations and the regulation for small electric vehicles.
According to Dedy, the rental companies need to monitor the drivers better. "The rental companies can usually determine the parking location of their scooters very precisely," he says. With technical means, they could prevent a scooter from being parked where it is forbidden. You could even automatically reduce their speed in parks and pedestrian zones - and thus contribute to traffic safety.
E-scooters can become a dangerous tripping hazard, especially for blind and visually impaired people. Since their approval in 2019, there have been numerous accidents, criticizes the German Blind and Visually Impaired Association.
But they are also prone to accidents while driving. According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were almost 7,800 accidents with e-scooters from January to November last year, in which people were injured. Nine even died. In comparison: In the whole of 2021 there were around 5500 accidents involving personal injury. Most of the casualties were therefore younger, they had often drunk alcohol and had driven incorrectly on streets and sidewalks.
Anyone over the age of 14 can drive an e-scooter. A driver's license is not required as the maximum speed is 20 kilometers per hour. Cycle paths must be used primarily. Where there are none, the lane must be used. The sidewalk is forbidden. Only one person is allowed to ride an e-scooter at a time. The alcohol limits are the same as for driving.
The rental companies
The rental companies also want to minimize the risk of accidents. For example, the app reminds them of applicable rules, according to the Shared Mobility platform, which three major providers have joined together to form. In many cities, drivers have to pass an alcohol reaction test from late in the evening before they can rent an e-scooter - and after the ride they have to take a photo to prove that the scooter is parked properly. In addition, the providers have created a central contact point for complaints.