Kick-scooters and curbing thrill-seekers’ enthusiasm
Electric kick-scooters are again causing an uproar. In Belgium, a man was filmed riding a scooter on a motorway. In England where electric kick-scooters are being trialled, teenagers have also been caught on the motorway while others are doing things like riding them inside shopping malls.
As the micromobility world expands, driving culture and appropriate legislation have to be fast to catch up. On the motorway ring of the Belgian capital Brussels, a man was filmed on a pimped out electric scooter driving at 70 km/h without helmet, light or other protection on the hard shoulder.
Meanwhile, in England, a test project with electric scooters was interrupted after teenagers endangered elderly people in shopping malls (described as “near misses”), and two teenagers were even caught with electric scooters on a two-lane highway. Beyond these incidents, the trials have been met with enthusiastic use by regular road, but also a lot of complaints from flustered citizens.
This comes as England is speeding up trials for light electric vehicles in an effort to improve public health and reduce congestion. But change is uncomfortable, awkward and… new. Not only does legislation have to be tailored to the new vehicle types but also driving culture.
The electric kick-scooters are fun to ride, a little risky, a little free, and it seems this is especially so for those reckless at heart. Street legislation and traffic culture have to catch up, as we are seeing in Paris, where the recently re-elected mayor Anne Hidalgo described the situation in 2019 as “anarchic”, while transport minister Élisabeth Borne stated at the time that the city was “under the law of the jungle”. Hidalgo has responded with appropriate legislation and carefully choosing kick-scooter companies while stipulating their responsibilities.
Perhaps part of the cultural transformation happening on our streets includes captivating the more reckless aspect with organised areas and events such as organised electric kick scooter races like the eSkootr Championship, while keeping the streets safe for more vulnerable users.