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After Paris scooter ban, Brussels considers stricter measures
Following a vote in Paris to ban electric scooters, with 89% of participants in the referendum voting in favour, the Belgian capital is also considering taking stricter measures if the situation does not improve within a year.
Scooters are considered a menace by many, largely because they are often abandoned haphazardly on streets and pavements, impeding foot and cycle traffic.
Brussels has implemented a number of policies aimed at tackling the issue, including designated drop-off points for scooters and steep fines for those who leave them discarded elsewhere.
Belgium as a whole has also passed regulations to address the issues of speeding and reckless driving on scooters, including maximum speeds and a ban on more than one person per scooter.
But many residents of Brussels say these measures have not helped and, like Parisians, they have had enough.
Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) said that while an outright ban is not yet being debated, more restrictions are not off the table for Brussels.
“If in a year's time there is no improvement in terms of road safety and respect for other users, stricter measures will be considered,” Van den Brandt said.
“We need to make the pavement safe in our region, where pavements are often too narrow and saturated with signs and such. We must protect pedestrians and particularly the most fragile among them.”
Van den Brandt also said she was concerned for scooter users themselves, saying that the road safety figures for scooter travel “are not good”.
Nevertheless, the aim is to give current measures – in particular parking management and a cap on the number of scooters allowed in the city – time to show results.
Implementing decrees will be discussed in a second reading in the coming month and new regulations are expected to be in force before the summer.
According to Van den Brandt, almost 1,000 drop-off zones should be operational before the summer. The "best-behaved" scooter-operator companies will also be incentivised.
In Paris, scooters will disappear entirely within five months. But in Brussels, where air pollution from heavy car traffic is among the worst of all European capitals, many residents still hope the greener form of micro-mobility can remain, albeit in a way that makes for less of a nuisance.
Mayor Philippe Close explained some of the measures already in place: “The speed limit is 22-23 km/h. When you enter a pedestrian zone, it automatically drops to 6 km/h. You can't park it just anywhere. We are defining drop zones.”
Close conceded that the situation is not yet optimal.
“Unfortunately, there aren't enough drop zones yet and there are some scooters lying around everywhere, but we are making sure that you can't leave it there,” Close told RTL.
“The aim is to move to a system with calls for tender where two to three operators would be selected on the basis of a whole series of criteria, including road safety and sustainability, and to limit the fleet of shared scooters,” a spokesperson for Brussels Mobility added.
Seven operators are currently active in the Brussels region, representing 21,000 vehicles.
By January 2024, the number of scooters should drop to 15,000.