German officials are planning a vote on Friday (Feb. 14) to decide the fate of electronic scooters in what has become Europe’s largest market.
Ever since Germany gave eScooters the green light in June, officials have been trying to get them off the street. Ride-hailing and food delivery startups are readying for a hit that could end in a total ban, The Financial Times reported on Wednesday (Feb. 12).
German leaders will vote to amend the country’s Road Traffic Act and put the fate of eScooters in the control of individual municipalities. City officials can then vote among themselves and decide whether to restrict the micro-vehicles to certain areas or ban them altogether. The amendments have already been supported by two preliminary votes in the Bundesrat — Germany’s upper chamber — by a majority of the country’s 16 states.
Vandalism and accidents prompted Berlin to lead the way on curtailing eScooters. The city has at least a half-dozen startups on its streets, including U.S. companies Bird, Lime, and Uber Jump, and European rivals Circ, Tier, and VOI.
“The use of pedestrian areas by commercial providers of rented electric scooters … is increasingly causing traffic problems for other road users,” Berlin’s government said, “in particular for pedestrians and people with reduced mobility.”
Friday’s votes could result in eScooters being deemed commercial entities, which require permits in public spaces including sidewalks. It would take effect on June 1. The vote could also give German cities and states the authority to ban the eScooters by denying them operating licenses.
“It could mean that some cities in Germany lose their electric scooters,” said Claus Unterkircher, a manager at VOI’s European arm. The Swedish company said it has 1,000 scooters on the streets of Berlin and 4 million users on the continent.
“We are pro-regulation, but we are pro smart regulation,” Unterkircher added.
In a position paper, the six main eScooter companies in Germany said the legal changes “would deny a young, growing industry the opportunity to prove itself as a building block of the mobility of the future.”
Uber is planning increased investment in electric bikes and scooters, with an emphasis on Europe.