German cities call for stricter e-scooter regulation after drunken incidents | News | DW | 05.08.2019

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German cities call for stricter e-scooter regulation after drunken incidents

After a weekend of injuries due to drunken operators, cities are calling for tighter safety measures. Cyclists and the disabled community have also said that the new mode of transportation is making streets less safe.

The Association of German Cities (DST) said on Monday that stricter regulations need to put in place as e-scooters becoming increasingly ubiquitous on city streets.

"We need clear rules of play and they must be binding," DST chief Helmut Dedy told a German collaboration of newspapers called Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

The announcement came after a weekend of mishaps on the ever more popular means of transport, easily rented in most of Germany's large cities. First, in the eastern city of Erfurt, several police officers were injured in a brawl that broke out when they tried to stop a drunken scooter operator.

Then, in the city of Cologne, four e-scooter users were badly injured when one of them, also intoxicated, fell off the vehicle.

With Cologne expecting to be home to 40,000 e-scooters by the end of this year, new laws are clearly needed for the new mode of transport, the DST said.

In Germany, e-scooters are treated as vehicles, just like bicycles, meaning it is illegal to operate them while drunk and could cost someone their driver's license. The new tech was fast-tracked onto city streets, receiving the green light to roll out for public use in mid-June.

Green party leader Cem Özdemir accused  the conservative Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer of inaction on the problems posed by the proliferation of scooters.

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E-scooters boast a faster, greener way to get around cities congested by car traffic. However, their environmental bona fides may be questionable, considering that the wear and tear they incur by constant, rotating use means that they usually last a year at most before having to be replaced.

Representatives of the disabled community have also voiced concerns that the speed of e-scooters, which are limited to roughly 20 kilometers per hour (12.5 miles per hour), are making streets less safe for wheelchair users.The German Cyclist Assocation (ADFC) warned that e-scooters were causing congestion on sidewalks and cycling paths that was partly to blame for a recent uptick in traffic deaths.

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