Lisbon’s electric scooters ride into trouble

Even before the fad has properly extended to other towns and cities, Lisbon electric scooter share system has run into serious problems.

1700 scooters have been seized for various infractions, with the city council profiting (in terms of fines) by 25,500 euros.

But the real issue is with the local populace, which seems to have taken against these ‘clean forms of mobility’.

Writes Correio da Manhã this morning: “They are found dropped by the side of roads, thrown into the river or even tossed into rubbish bins. Pure acts of vandalism, or simple manifestations of the discontent of the population over the invasion of electric scooters” – a service designed to help both nationals and tourists ‘get around easily in an environmentally-friendly way’.

The shared system, with drop-off points around the capital, was launched in October. For around 15 cents a minute, over-18s can ‘hire’ an electric scooter and travel short distances (to work, to meet friends, etc.)

Says one of the many Lisbon travel-guide websites: “Electric scooter sharing companies are taking over the capital”.

The companies involved to date include “Bungo, Flash, Hive, Iomo, Tier, Voi, and Wind”.

They all give their customers basic guidelines (ride on bike lanes rather than on sidewalks (sic), wear a helmet, and park responsibly) but the trouble is people are not following them.

There have been numerous fines for drivers operating scooters with excess alcohol, driving on pavements, driving while listening to music, or wearing earphones. There have even been fines for people travelling with ‘excess load’ (ie a second passenger) – while abusive parking has become a major headache.

Thus the bizarre fate of hundreds of vehicles, which have simply been tossed into the Tejo, or into rubbish bins after locals find them littering pavements.

However, what’s to be done about the situation is somewhat left in the air.

CM says that there is a total of 6000 scooters operating in Lisbon at the moment. The 1700 that were seized, have made their way back into the system after operators have paid fines, usually €15 per scooter.

This is bringing in a lot of extra money for the council, so perhaps there is a silver lining in the ‘failures of the system’.

Certainly mayor Fernando Medina has said scooters are being taken up to the tune of around 13,000 trips a day, mostly by locals (57%) but popular also with tourists (43%).

Scooter share systems have also spread to Coimbra, Faro, Maia and Matosinhos and are about to start in Porto.

They operate via the use of mobile phone apps which allow for the blocking and unblocking of scooters as they are ‘hired’.

Says CM, the problems registered in Lisbon do not appear to have been shared by other towns running similar systems.

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