Prague 1 threatens scooter ban

The city district claims that the agreed rules are not being enforced

The shareable electric scooters are proving to be as unpopular as Segways.

The Prague 1 district is urging Prague City Hall to enforce the traffic rules on the electric scooters that were launched by US firm Lime at the end of September.

The electric scooters can be rented via a phone app and driven across the city. The terms of use specify that users have to follow local laws and not drive them on sidewalks or leave them where they cause obstructions, but this is widely ignored.

The Prague 1 district after seeing what has happened since the launch of the service wants the city to rectify the situation, or the district will seek to ban the scooters from being left in the whole territory of Prague 1. This follows after Prague 2 announced a blanket ban on the scooters in its territory.

Prague 1 spokeswoman Veronika Blažková said the scooters have caused numerous complaints and criticism due to riders using them and on crowded sidewalks.

Prague 2 has also complained that the scooters do not have parking spots, so they are left on the sidewalk often blocking people from walking. If they are left at corners, they can prevent disabled people in wheelchairs from crossing the street.

Prague City Hall, however, supports the concept of shared transport and signed a memorandum with the company providing the scooters. Lime has promised to ensure compliance with legislation. So far, though, the providers have not come up with any enforcement mechanism.

Lime claims it is trying to instruct its clients to learn about safe driving rules. But the company is still allowing the scooters to operate in Prague 2 after the ban, even though the phone app, which uses GPS, could easily keep them from operating in the district by preventing them from being unlocked and locked there.

Lime’s local operations and logistics manager, Ondřej Široký, said the company is cooperating with most of the city districts where the service is available.

Prague 1’s Blažková, however, said nobody from Lime has met with district representatives or the Municipal Police concerning how the scooters would be placed and operated. She claims this is a violation of the memorandum signed by the City Council. She adds that the scooters do not meet road traffic standards and users do not follow the rules.

Prague 1 wants City Hall to enforce the signed memorandum and the Municipal Police to take action against violations such as driving on the sidewalk.

Otherwise, Prague 1 will institute a blanket ban, and the scooters will be effectively blocked from all of the city center.

City Hall, to the contrary, announced in mid-October that it was in talks with at least one more company to provide more scooters.
Electric scooters began to be provided by Lime in Prague at the end of September. The service lets people use a smartphone app to unlock the scooters and then ride them for a fee.

To use a Lime scooter, people pay Kč 25 as an initial fee and then Kč 2 for every minute. The scooters should go a maximum of 25 kph, and the Lime company recharge them when the battery runs low.

The terms of use specify that the scooter users have to obey the rules of the road and not cause a hazard to pedestrians. Riders are also supposed to wear helmets.

Lime was established in the US state of California in January 2017. It is mainly active in the US and is expanding to Europe. Its founders say they want to reduce people’s dependence on passenger cars for short-distance transport. In addition to eighty US cities, their green-and-yellow bikes are in Europe in Zurich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Valencia, and now Prague.

Prague also has several bike sharing and car sharing services, including one for electric cars.

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