- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Nuisance or badly needed? Brussels still divided over scooters
With a recent survey showing that nearly half (46%) of electric scooter riders admit they sometimes run a red light, Brussels continues its struggle to incorporate the increasingly popular form of micro-transport into its mobility offerings.
Other bad behaviours admitted to in the European ESRA survey from Belgian traffic safety institute Vias include riding a scooter on a footpath (61% of respondents admitted to doing so on occasion) and scooting while under the influence of alcohol (40%), both of which are illegal. Users also admitted to doubling up on riders, which was also recently forbidden in Brussels.
But while the survey results added new fuel to the ongoing debate on the presence of shared electric scooters in the Belgian capital - such scooters were recently banned in Paris - there were also significant findings about car users.
Red-light runners on scooters are quick to point out that while these stats are worse for Belgium than the European average, when it comes to poor road etiquette, scooter users are not that different from people behind the wheel of a car.
An estimated 57% of Belgians who drive a car admitted to occasionally driving faster than the maximum permitted speed on motorways at least once a month, a figure worse than the European average of 50%.
Another 55% admitted to driving too fast in built-up areas every month, compared to 48% for the European average.
One of the few areas in which Belgian drivers of cars more or less mirror their European counterparts is that of distracted driving. One in four Belgians surveyed admitted to occasionally reading a message or checking social media behind the wheel at least once a month, which is the same as the European average.
Belgian drivers were slightly better at avoiding making calls on their mobiles behind the wheel, with one in five admitting to doing so in the last month compared to the European average of 25%.
Almost one in five Belgians also admitted that they had driven a vehicle two hours after taking medication that impaired their driving ability, and Vias deplored the lack of clarity surrounding the use of medication and its link with driving.
“It’s up to the doctor and pharmacist to inform the patient of the possible impairment of driving ability,” the institute said in a statement.
“For a long time now, the Vias institute has been in favour of a colour code on the packaging of medicines indicating their possible impact on driving ability.”
Many people are under the impression that rules for driving under the influence - be that alcohol or impairing medication - do not apply the same to those on scooters, but this is not true.
“As a reminder, the legal alcohol limit of 0.5% also applies to driving an electric scooter,” Vias said. “The electric scooter is certainly not a safe mode of transport when you are under the influence of alcohol. The slightest unexpected movement can throw you off balance and cause you to fall heavily.”
ESRA is a large-scale survey in 39 countries worldwide, 22 of which are European countries. In all those countries, the same questionnaire is submitted to a representative sample of at least 1,000 road users. In Belgium, 2,000 people took part.