This is what an e-scooter pack looks like in the wild.Image: shutterstock.com
The city of Zurich is thinking loudly about new rules for e-scooters. She relies on ideas that work in Bern. It is about accident prevention and “public order”.
01/21/2022, 10:37 am01/21/2022, 12:16 p.m
Spring will be back in almost exactly two months and will give us what we all love so much: warmer temperatures, sunnier days and therefore better conditions for zipping around on a bike or scooter. In the cities, however, the milder season also brings disadvantages: the rentable e-scooters will be seen everywhere, even where they don’t belong.
They occupy bicycle parking spaces, lie across sidewalks and are misused to race through busy pedestrian zones. The city of Zurich will now take action against this: the authorities have started a “pilot project” with the official aim of “gaining experience in the management of e-scooters”. But what the city is really about is getting the e-scooter proliferation under control.
For some time now, e-scooters have been slowed down to three to five kilometers per hour – that’s about walking pace as soon as a scooter enters a defined perimeter. An SRF report cites Zurich’s Niederdorf or the Altstadt district as examples of where the location-based speed reduction takes place.
There are also other ideas such as “preferred parking areas”: If you rent an e-scooter, you should park it in the right place later. They should either be marked with visual street signs like bicycle parking spaces or be visible on the app of the e-scooter provider. “Here, too, the aim is to gain experience on how order in public space can be improved,” says Nadja Häberli, Communications Officer for the City of Zurich.
Bern has experience with scooter rules
In their statements, the city administration always speaks of “gaining experience”. However, the ideas are pretty much reminiscent of the rules that already apply in the federal city: unlike Zurich, Bern reacted proactively to the expected flood of scooters two years ago. “Experiences from foreign cities showed us that the providers will also appear in Switzerland at some point,” recalled the Bern traffic planner Karl Vogel. The federal city used its right to regulate the rental scooter market without any change in the law: Anyone who wanted to offer the equipment in public places (the technical term for this: “increased public use”) needed a permit.
Bern therefore limited the number of e-scooters to 250, with a maximum of one fifth being allowed to be present in the city center on average. There were also parking bans, for example near the train station, to keep bicycle parking spaces free, and special zones where driving was prohibited or slowed down. In other words: Bern already knows the rules that are now being examined. “The rules work well,” says Bern’s urban traffic planner. However, Vogel’s department is ready to share Bern’s experience at any time.
Helmets are compulsory in Denmark since 2022
However, a more recent look abroad shows that the screw could be tightened not only in Zurich, but also in Bern when it comes to e-scooters: Suva published last Sunday that there were around 2,400 accidents with e-scooters last year there’s war. Almost half of the accidents happen at dusk or during the night hours. The data relates not only to rental scooters, but also to private e-scooters, which department stores have been offering for some time at reasonable prices.
Stricter regulations for e-scooters are already being considered abroad. Denmark is introducing a helmet requirement at the beginning of the year. The rental company Voi regretted this radical decision and tried to prevent it on its own responsibility: Voi gave discounts to customers who wore a helmet when using e-scooters. But it didn’t do any good: anyone who travels dangerously – i.e. without a helmet, drunk or in pairs – pays the equivalent of between 90 and 120 francs in fines in Denmark.
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