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Scooters causing problems for pedestrians with disabilities
At a first glance, the new ride-share scooters and bikes that have been popping up around the city seem like fun, convenient and environmentally friendly alternatives to cars or public transportation. However, many are not realising the problems these vehicles are causing.
Often, these vehicles are being abandoned on pavements and in areas of high pedestrian foot traffic. This is causing issues for pedestrians, especially for those with disabilities.
“If the pavement [is] blocked with these kinds of scooters or bikes parked in the middle of it, it’s not only dangerous for people like me who might not be able to see it, but also those who cannot fit with their wheelchairs on the pavement,” said Alejandro Moledo, the policy coordinator at European Disability Forum. “It’s a broad range of our population that is affected by this problem.”
Moledo is partially sighted and finds it difficult to navigate the streets, especially in the dark. When objects like scooters are parked in walkways, they are almost impossible to see.
“Personally, I am totally in favour of alternative or sustainable ways of mobility in the city, so there’s nothing against people using scooters,” Moledo told The Bulletin. “But the way these are arranged in the city when they are not being used is something that as a citizen walking around Brussels, I think the city should definitely act.”
Many concerned residents have been taking pictures of obstructing vehicles around the city and tweeting them, tagging the companies and the city in hopes that they take action.
Moledo would like to see designated areas for parking scooters and bikes, whether assigned by the companies or the Brussels authorities. He also believes enforcement of parking requirements by authorities would help the situation greatly.
“I don’t know how this can be fixed but what I know is that it would be very easy for Brussels authorities to find out who left them, or to push the companies who didn’t park the scooters properly,” Moledo said.
Moledo also suggested fines against both the individual rider and the scooter and bike companies. This would encourage people to start parking the vehicles properly. “It’s a matter of the will of the company to enforce the requirements on how to use their scooters, and also the city of Brussels and the police,” he said.
Despite the difficulties he and others face because of these vehicles, Moledo does not believe banning them altogether is the solution. Enforcing stricter rules is the way forward.
Moledo wanted to leave scooter and bike users with a message. “They need to be responsible with what they do and accountable with what they do,” he said. “They need to think of being in the shoes of somebody else and not thinking that everybody else is like them.”
A City of Brussels spokesperson said: "We are aware of the problem and are coordinating with the Region to prevent people from parking in a wrong way in the future."