Thousands of Oslo’s popular but highly controversial electric scooters were left scattered and unusable around town on Friday. New restrictions limit their sheer numbers, and the Oslo County Court turned down a legal challenge by scooter operators to suspend the regulations that took effect on September 10.
The new rules are forcing a huge reduction in the numbers of scooters, from an estimated 23,000 at present to just 8,000 on Oslo’s streets. That means up to 12 operators can rent out 667 of what the Norwegians call elsparkesykler each.
Scooter operators Tier, Voi and Ryde have sued the city in an attempt to overturn the new rules, introduced after massive complaints about how the scooters litter public strees and sidewalks, create traffic hazards and have caused scores of serious accidents. Even doctors at Oslo’s main emergency clinic issued warnings about the scooters, after being overwhelmed by all the cases of serious injuries pouring in, especially late at night on weekends.
The new regulations also set stricter speed limits on scooter use and ban more than one rider on each scooter. Many of those rules have been blatantly ignored by users, but police have launched major crackdowns around the city, issuing citations and heavy fines to many violators.
The operators sought an injunction against the reduction in the numbers scooters allowed on Oslo city streets, pending the outcome of their lawsuit seeking to overturn them. That’s what the court refused to issue on Friday. Voi and Tier told news bureau NTB that they will now read through the court’s ruling before deciding whether to appeal.
Sirin Stav, Oslo’s new city government leader in charge of the environment and transport, was relieved by the court ruling. “The enormous number of el-scooters in Oslo has led to huge accessibility challenges in the city,” Stav told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Many now fear walking around Oslo, because of all the reckless scooter operators driving them on sidewalks and weaving around pedestrians.
Scooters now ordered deactivated and left scattered around the city must be picked up by their operators by Wednesday, reported newspaper Aftenposten. They can also be towed in if found parked illegally.