Since June 15, there have been e-scooters in Germany for three years. What use them in city traffic? What does science say? What do the people in town say?
Should they change mobility in the long run, that was the great promise of the e-scooter. They must be part of the green mobility revolution. Instead of using the private car, an e-scooter should be used.
We now know that this did not happen. Although the number of e-scooters has increased significantly, the number of cars has not decreased significantly. However, e-scooters are only environmentally friendly if they are truly replacing car rides.
The conclusion in the cities is mixed, as well as the scientific data. Survey results from Berlin and Dresden, for example, show that three per cent of e-scooter rides replace the car – most of them e-scooters are replacing bike rides or on foot.
Laura Gebhardt says you can’t make a profit for your city, or even Germany, from it. She is a traffic researcher at the German Aerospace Center DLR.
Cities and e-scooters
The scientific data on the benefits of e-scooters is a mixture of many individual studies and publications. Studies often refer only to individual cities and many studies differ greatly in methodology. Indeed it is not possible to derive a clear and generally correct judgment from this. Also because the data sometimes varies greatly from city to city.
Unlike Dresden or Berlin, where only a few car trips are replaced by an e-scooter, things look different in San Francisco, for example. According to surveys, 42 percent of e-scooter trips there should replace car trips.
However, the question of the suitability of e-scooters is not the only problem. Many municipalities and cities are not satisfied with the current situation. There are a lot of accidents, parked e-scooters often pose a danger to pedestrians, and there are generally too many e-scooters.
So the city of Düsseldorf has almost halved the number of certified e-scooters. In addition, they may only be parked in private parking areas. In Karlsruhe, incorrectly parked e-scooters can now be reported using an app, and in Stuttgart there have been more accidents with incorrectly parked e-scooters. Apparently, visually impaired people in particular have problems getting through the city safely.
The German Federation of Cities is also calling for a higher limit for e-scooters in cities. DLR’s Laura Gebhardt sees the problems – but she says it too. In fact, it was expected:
So e-scooters did not get a place. It’s a bit like fetching cars but not building roads, highways, or parking lots.
This is what e-scooter rental companies say
This is exactly where Florian Anders from e-scooter rental company TIER would like to start in the future. He wishes there would be a real rethinking and redistribution of public space.
There are no exact figures about the space available for individual road users in German cities. However, the first figures from Berlin confirm Florian Anders’ assumption. While 58 percent of the traffic area is occupied by streets and parking lots, only three percent of the area is bike paths, which cyclists currently share with e-scooters.
Despite all the problems, DLR’s Laura Gebhardt and many other researchers still believe in the potential of e-scooters. They can help make public transit more attractive by beating the so-called last mile. So the routes from the bus to your door and vice versa.
But there is still a lot to do for this. On the one hand, lenders must be held accountable. They have to find more environmentally friendly ways to recharge scooters, make e-scooters available in remote areas and increasingly integrate them with public transportation. On the other hand, cities have to give e-scooters the space they need.