The perils of eScooters & eBikes by Lyft, Lime, etc

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  • IanFromHKG

    On the other hand, if you own a big fat 7-seater, or top of the range Merc or Beamer, you can double park in Central Hong Kong with equanimity.

    Absolutely, and it drives me hopping mad, particularly as they sit there with their engines running (which is illegal, btw, if done for more than three minutes) belching out fumes just so that the driver can sit in the aircon for hours on end waiting for his (they are all men) employer to finish lunch/shopping/meeting/whatever. If I had my way the traffic wardens would be in plain clothes and would all have electronic devices which could snap and record the number plate and, using GPS, spit out a ticket in under a minute so the so-and-sos can’t just drive off; AND I would introduce a law saying employers were not permitted to pay and it must be paid by the driver himself (because the employers are too rich to care – if they do pay, their car is seized), AND the fine would double on each re-offence (without time limit, no rehabilitation rules here!) AND it would be three strikes and you’re out, licence suspended for a year, employer not permitted to fire you (driver has to stay on the payroll but at half wages with the other half going to fund the coppers’ gizmos) and employer banned from employing another driver for three years. That might just fix the problem.

    On e-scooters, would it not be better to introduce a speed limiter to restrict them to, say, 10 or 15mph? Personally I am in favour of them provided they are used responsibly*, and if I were on my own visiting a city that had them I would probably use them (whereas I have never used a Boris bike, it just seems too much like hard work!). I’ve wondered for some time how they get charged up if they aren’t left in docking stations?

    * Responsible use is, of course, key – and it is clear that in some places they aren’t being used responsibly. However, since they seem to be unlocked by an app, the user must be identifiable; so perhaps one solution would be to introduce a system where if the scooters are being used recklessly or are abandoned somewhere that causes a hazard, the user can be fined through the app.

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    Ian, responsibility is key but don’t expect Lyft to care about that. Why would they want to turn away customers with fines? In Dallas, I would estimate 75% of scooters are irresponsibly parked making them a hazard to pedestrians. So we are not talking about a minority here.


    French e-scooter users ‘must be licensed and insured’
    The group has called for a raft of new legislation on electric scooters

    Electric scooters (trottinettes) in France should have licence plates, require driver insurance, and must require the real name and details of anyone hiring them, a victims’ campaigning association has said.

    The demands come in the same week as a rider of an electric scooter died in Yvelines (Île-de-France) after taking on the motorway. The accident also caused injury to a motorbike rider.

    Campaigners from electric scooter victims’ association Apacauvi (Association Philanthropique Action Contre l’Anarchie Urbaine Vecteur d’Incivilité) attended a meeting yesterday (Monday August 12) in Paris, with the minister of ecology, and called for more to be done to regulate the scooters.

    Jean-René Albertin, president of Apacauvi, whose wife – a professional pianist – is still recovering after having been hit by an electric scooter last June, said: “It was a meeting for [the government] to hear our position, as stakeholders concerned by the future regulation of scooters.

    “The interview took place in a constructive atmosphere. We were alone, and there were no scooter company representatives around the table.”

    The 1,400-member group has called for new regulation of electric scooters as part of the government’s current transport bill, le Projet de Loi d’Orientation sur les Mobilités (LOM). This is set to be discussed in the Assemblée Nationale this September.

    The group’s regulation requests included requiring scooter users (whether owners or hirers) to have insurance, to have a mandatory licence plate, and to use their real name when signing up to hire.

    Lawyers for the group are also planning a class action suit against the Mayor of Paris, “as there is a danger to life” and “threat to the public order”, according to lawyer Hadrien Muller.

    Apacauvi vice-president Arnaud Kielbasa, whose wife was run over on a pavement by a scooter last May, while she was carrying the couple’s little girl, said: “Currently, 90% of scooter-for-hire users do not have insurance, and it is very difficult for victims to get compensation.

    “We must require users to take out insurance, in the same was as we do for drivers [and] as they do in Germany.”

    He also demanded “mandatory licence plates for these electric engines, as is already in place for motorbike-style scooters. This would allow us to trace and prosecute drivers. Hirers should also register using a real name, and not a pseudonym.

    “Operators must share their data with administration authorities on infractions. This is already what happens with hire car companies.”

    The group highlighted that three people in France have been killed in accidents involving the scooters since the beginning of spring this year.

    This is on top of around “160-200 [non-fatal] accidents per month”, according to Mr Kielbasa.

    Many people who cause these accidents cannot be identified or prosecuted, the group said, because there is currently no legislation in place that requires scooters riders or hirers to use their real identity, have insurance, or submit identifying documents.

    This is in contrast to hiring a car or a motorbike, for example – which requires proper insurance, a valid licence, and legal ID.

    The group is now planning to meet with five MPs who will have a key role in discussing the forthcoming LOM bill.

    Mr Kielbasa said: “We know that the fight will be tough. We are still shaken post-gilets jaunes, and we feel that the executive will not want to add too many constraints in terms of mobility [to the public].”

    Electric scooters, which can reach speeds of up to 25 kph, have been controversial in recent months, as their use continues to spread.

    The government has already put some measures in place to legislate electric scooters.

    While ministers have stopped short of making helmets mandatory nationwide, the devices are already banned from pavements and pedestrian zones, under pain of a fine of up to €135. Users must instead take the cycle lane on the normal road (if there is one), and stay in zones with a speed limit of up to 50 kph.

    Any scooter user found to be going faster than 25 kph on any pedestrianised area already risks a fine of up to €1,500. There are also plans to ban users from wearing headphones while riding, and the devices will also be required to have working lights, brakes, and a horn.

    Users must be at least eight years old, and anyone under age 12 must wear a helmet.

    A new tax on hire scooters is also due to come into place for operating companies in Paris, and the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo now requires hire companies to share real-time data of the location of their scooters with the Mairie every three hours.

    In May, then-transport minister Elisabeth Borne admitted that the development and rapid rise in scooter use had happened “in a very rapid and slightly anarchic way, and it has effectively become ‘the law of the jungle’”.


    The Amsterdam debate tickled me somewhat …….And I can see AFD’s point of view as a local and at the same time been in Bath_VIP’s position as a visitor.
    And as a visitor I wasn’t sure if I was in Amsterdam or Notre Dame …… “The Bells, the bells “ Ring, ring, toot, toot a cacophony ringing that can be very intimidating, especially as you try and cross the road, most memorably at the bend in the road around the corner from Dam square!!

    I recall walking along the beach front in Chicago , on the footpath having to dodge fast moving show off rollerblades and skate boarders …..

    So I suppose it might be a case of when in Rome ? at least until legislation is brought in and more importantly manage these new toys

    As for the vagrant disregard of local laws in HK, it might be just my perception but I notice that most of the flash cars violating the rules have mainland plates and might therefore be exempt ?

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    A colleague of mine has just come back from Marseille and has been going on about how it great it was to be able to use the eScooters there. It sounded like chaos there but one thing he did say is that once he was finished with a scooter, he had to photograph where he left it and email that to the company. That sounds like a way to enforce good parking of a scooter since if a company is not satisfied with the parking of the scooter they can keep the meter running.

    Is this correct as far as anyone knows?


    As for the vagrant disregard of local laws in HK, it might be just my perception but I notice that most of the flash cars violating the rules have mainland plates and might therefore be exempt ?

    No, canucklad, you can’t drive a car in HK if it has solely mainland plates (just as you can’t drive a car on the mainland if it has solely HK plates). Any private vehicle crossing the border must have dual plates.

    The ones that are exempt are those with the “AM” plates used by the government. I have previously asked a policeman to ticket a driver who was sitting in a parked car, with his engine running (unlawfully, since it was for more than three minutes, I timed it) on a double-yellow line; and was told that he couldn’t do that because cars with “AM” plates aren’t required to have a vehicle licence and therefore he couldn’t issue a ticket, all he could do was warn the driver – which (at my insistence) he did, to be met with a very disinterested shrug of the shoulders from the driver who knew he was immune.

    The car, incidentally, was parked outside the entrance to the Hong Kong Club (where I am now!) at lunchtime, so I think it is fair to assume that the official user of the car was having a jolly good lunch and had told the driver to wait outside. Screw the traffic flow, screw the law, screw the environment, you just wait right outside belching out fumes so that I can leave whenever I like and step into a nice cold limousine right outside the door to take me less than a mile back to my office.

    Back to your point, though, canucklad, most of the offending vehicles (IME) just have HK plates. I have developed a cunning plan (and better than any of Baldrick’s)… In all the blackspots for this, put kerbstones between the lanes (with occasional gaps so people can change lanes, of course). Then anyone who stops would block in everyone behind them. Peer pressure would soon stop the bottlenecks!

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    Electric scooters have ruined Paris – we can’t let London be next

    Mary Novakovich Travel writer

    “On my latest visit in October, I was taken aback by the sheer number of scooters lying abandoned in the streets”

    Normally, anything that combats the notorious traffic congestion on the streets of Paris deserves applause. The city was a pioneer in public bike-rental schemes when it launched Vélib’ in 2007, beating London by five years. You can now get electric versions, and the dockless bike revolution that swept across most major cities has hit Paris too.

    But pedal power requires a bit of effort – even on an e-bike – so the next step to make life easier for commuters was to bring in little electric scooters, which the American operator Lime did in the summer of 2018. While I still can’t get over the sight of grown-ups riding these things that look better powered by small children, I had to admit the scooters – known as trottinettes – made sense if you want to whizz around the city with relative ease. They’re known as “free-floating”, meaning you can pick up and drop off where you please by using an app. But what I wasn’t expecting was the bedlam that descended on the streets of Paris.

    On my latest visit in October, I was taken aback by the sheer number of scooters lying abandoned in the streets. In front of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, along crowded streets, on bridges, thrown into the Seine – hundreds were just dumped unceremoniously once users finished their journey, or had their journeys curtailed by a flat battery. They almost had the appearance of a city-wide art installation – a pathos invoked by what looked like giant toys discarded here and there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Instagram hashtag of “forgotten scooters in picturesque places”.

    They’ve become blots on the city landscape, because, frankly, where are 20,000 of these things supposed to go? Paris’s thronging pavements are often enough of an obstacle course without having to hop over scooters that had been knocked over or just dumped.

    Now and again I’d spotted someone collecting scooters to be taken away for recharging. There’s a scheme where members of the public are given money to take them home for recharging, boosting the several dozen staff paid to do the same. But they all seemed to be fighting a losing battle.
    American company Lime was the first, now there are a dozen electric scooter operators in Paris

    The authorities hadn’t quite been prepared for the free-for-all that came with the launch last summer. The whole idea of free-floating scooters was a bit of a legal grey area where French traffic laws were concerned. Twelve operators signed up, but Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo plans to limit the number of operators to three, as well as capping the number of scooters and reducing the speed limit to 5mph in certain roads. In September, she banned users from riding the scooters on the pavements on pain of a €135 (£115) fine – a decision I’m surprised took so long, considering the number of injuries caused by collisions with pedestrians. From what I had seen, the ban was working – the riders were either in the increasingly busy cycle lanes or braving the road.

    But the abandoned scooters remain. There are designated parking places – obviously not enough of them – and plans to create 2,500 more. Fines of €35 (£30) are in force if your scooter gets in the way of traffic or pedestrians. I might have missed them, but it was hard to see any signs of enforcement. The operators, too, are fined if municipal workers have to pick up broken-down or vandalised scooters.

    According to a study by French research bureau 6-t, only about a third of users are tourists. The rest are Parisians – more than half of which are under 35. For them, the trottinettes have added a bit of fun to their city travel, anything to avoid having to squeeze into crowded metro trains. Even though prices for a scooter ride are nearly double that of a €1.50 metro ticket, or they’re shaving all of 10 minutes off a 20-minute walk, commuters would rather bomb along feeling like a kid again.

    A British friend of mine in Paris uses them all the time. “The joy of living in Paris is in being outdoors,” she said. “I use trottinettes a lot when I don’t have time to walk and I don’t want to miss out on a glorious sunny morning. For short journeys it’s almost always quicker than finding the nearest metro.”

    I don’t like to spoil anyone’s fun, but there’s a limit to how many e-scooters Paris can take. At least it’s a problem Londoners don’t have to worry about just yet, thanks to the 1835 Highway Act. Electric scooters are forbidden on the road unless they’re taxed and registered, and they’re not allowed on pavements. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London has been trialling e-scooters with Bird since November 2018, and it’s been extended several times – the latest till March 2020. They’re not allowed out of the park, however, and let’s hope it stays that way.


    There is an election on so ask your candidates if they will prevent this blight appearing on our cities.

    Dallas, Paris, which city will be the next to fall to this curse?

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