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Monday, May 20, 2024

Complaints pile up over ‘el-scooters’

Critics claim they’re ‘littering the landscape,’ being dumped into the fjord and often driven recklessly with police unable to take much punitive action. As more so-called “electric kick scooters” hit the streets and sidewalks of Oslo, calls are rising for more control over them.

Electric scooters have become a common sight around Oslo, not without complaints. PHOTO:

Police were able to take action against one new operator last month when they spotted a delivery truck driving down the Oslo thoroughfare Bygdøy allé and appearing to be overloaded.

“When the officers on patrol began to speak with the driver, they heard peeping sounds from the cargo area,” Finn Erik Grønli, a sergeant for the Oslo Police District’s traffic corps, told newspaper Aftenposten. They asked him to open it up, and found it was carrying no less than 95 of the scooters that had been collected for recharging.

That made the truck around 500 kilos overweight, resulting in charges against the driver. He was supposed to place the scooters from one of the new operators, Tier Mobility, after charging.

Tier’s local chief blamed the incident on an “external transport firm” hired to collect, charge and place the scooters around town. “We hold all our partners responsible for following the law,” Lars Christian Grødem-Olsen of Tier Mobility told Aftenposten. He claimed he needed to “investigate all details” of the incident before making further comment.

No ‘drunk-riding’ limit
There’s little police can do in the case of scooter users being drunk. While motorists can lose their driver’s licenses if they even sit behind the wheel of a car while drunk, news bureau NTB reported this week that there’s no legal limit set for alcohol consumption while riding the scooters.

There was until last year, when the Norwegian government changed national law to put electric scooters, skateboards, Segways and other small electric vehicles on par with bicycling. “There’s no alcohol limit for cycling,” Bård Morten Johansen of the traffic safety agency Trygg Trafikk told NTB. “There’s of course a demand that you shouldn’t be so drunk that you’re unable to cycle safely.” Electric scooters and bicycles have become a challenge, said, “because you need some skills at following the traffic. It’s also easy to move between a sidewalk, a cycling lane or the street, so those on scooters can surprise others.”

Environmentally questionable
Police told newspaper VG that they can, and will, react to those deemed to be riding in a condition where they’re unable to do so “in a safe manner.” Their enforcement capacity remains questionable, as more and more operators put hundreds more scooters on the streets that can be rented via mobil phone apps for just a few kroner per minute.

Others clearly love the new means of transport, given the sheer numbers of people riding them around town. At least four operators (Voi, Tier, Flash and Zvipp) are already in business, or soon will be.

Those contending the scooters are an environmentally friendly means of getting around were surprised to learn the average scooter only lasts a month or two before being scrapped. Their wheels wear out, reported Aftenposten, and even regular maintenance won’t extend their life-spans. Grødem-Olsen has told Aftenposten that Tier’s goal is to extend the life of an electric scooter to a few years. Berglund



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