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Cities look to ban e-scooter parking in busiest spots

19:27 11/06/2019

Brussels and Antwerp are to restrict where users of shared electric scooters can park their vehicles, with a focus on some of the busiest parts of the cities. The vehicles, provided by companies including Lime, Troty and Dott, have become a familiar sight but users frequently leave them in places that block pavements and create a hazard for pedestrians, particularly those with limited vision and mobility.

Following consultation with the 19 municipalities, the Brussels-Capital Region has drawn up a map of “red zones” in which they want to see parking prohibited. It includes the whole of the Unesco-protected area of the city centre around the Grand Place as well as parts of Rue de la Loi and Josaphat park. The region will now work with Brussels Mobility to study the options for banning parking in these areas.

If a vehicle is left for more than 24 hours in a banned zone, the providers will face a fine, starting at €200 and rising to €2,000. They also face losing their licence to operate in the capital. “It’s our only possibility,” Inge Paemen of Brussels Mobility told De Morgen. “We don’t know who the users are. It is then up to the operators to decide whether they pass these fines on to their clients.”

In Antwerp, there are a small number of spots where parking bikes and electric scooters is already banned. “We are looking at how in the future we can apply this more widely,” said a spokesperson for Antwerp councillor for mobility Koen Kennis. “The various providers can then take account of these zones in their software using geofencing and prevent their vehicles from being parked there.”

Antwerp city authorities don’t want to see large areas where parking is prohibited as they believe initiatives such as shared electric scooters make a valuable contribution to the mobility landscape. The city has previously drawn up regulations for operators, who must have a licence to provide their service. “If we find that an operator is not complying with the conditions, the licence may be withdrawn,” the spokesperson added.

Shared electric scooters have quickly become a popular method of transport and are part of a wider movement to encourage drivers to find alternatives to driving and car ownership. According to a survey by Lime among 2,000 of its users, 35% of riders in Brussels reported using personal cars less frequently because of electric scooters, with 25% having used a scooter to replace a car journey on their last ride.

As mobility options rapidly evolve, city authorities are having to act quickly to keep up. Under regulations introduced in the capital in February, shared scooter providers already have a responsibility to ensure their vehicles do not block pavements and cause hazards for pedestrians. There is currently no question of creating special parking zones for the scooters, which are locked and unlocked using an app and have no need for dedicated docking stations.

“According to our experience, self-regulation is not enough,” André Felix of the European Disability Forum in Brussels said. “Regulated parking, away from the sidewalks, is a necessity to ensure any pedestrian, including people with disabilities, can move freely and safely on sidewalks. Besides, authorities also need to ensure that e-scooters do not travel on the sidewalks and that users are fined if they do so, as already happens in many other European cities.”

Photo: Belga/Benoît Doppagne

Written by Flanders Today