Helsinki closes electric kickboards on weekend evenings

Electric kickboard rental companies have agreed with the City of Helsinki that the closure of the city will be temporarily closed late in the evening on weekends.

The experiment concerns three electric kickboard companies operating in Helsinki (Voi, Tier and Lime). It will begin on Friday, Sept. 3 and continue until the end of this year, the city council said in a statement.

Earlier this week, rental companies agreed to reduce the top speeds of their scooters whenever the number of traffic accidents increases, especially on weekends.

Electric kickboard users agreed to lower the maximum speeds of the equipment from 25 kilometers to 20 kilometers per hour and to limit their speeds to 15 kilometers per hour from midnight to five in the morning around the city.

According to the city, efforts to lower the speed limits on scooters originated from safety concerns "rapid and large-scale introduction of this new mode of transport."

City Traffic and Street Planning Manager Reetta Putkonen the city hopes speed and time restrictions will reduce electric motor accidents, especially on weekends.

"Renting electric scooters has become a very popular service in Helsinki in a short time, which means that they have become a pleasant addition to the mobility of many. However, the problems seen show that the new service also needs to be developed agilely in cooperation with companies and authorities. The need for cooperation will certainly continue in the coming years," Putkonen said in a press release.

The release also noted that the city was working to reduce the problems sometimes associated with parking e-Scooters — including the ability to restrict equipment parking in certain areas. "areas where parking is most difficult to reach and comfort."

"It has not been clear to all e-Scooter users that the Scooters are not used on the pedestrian pavement but on the cycle path or roadside," the city stated.

Can answer

Senior Chief Operating Officer of E-Scooter Rental Company Voi in Finland, Reetta Alastalo, told Yle News by email that the company did not see weekend downtime as the right approach and that a long – term strategy is needed.

"To help solve the problem of urgent drunk driving here and now we are ready to try the night outages. In the long run, however, we believe that closing e-Scooters at night is not the best way to tackle irresponsible behavior," The nave said.

He noted that, as well as the problems associated with drink-driving in cars, "We need a long-term awareness campaign and enforce restrictions on the use of electric scooters at night."

According to Alastalo, the most significant change that the scooter companies agreed to was a general reduction in maximum speeds.

As an alternative to ending the use of e-Scooters on weekend nights, he said the company proposed physically moving the equipment away from nightlife destinations.

"We also suggested… the introduction of internal features of the application, such as mandatory slow motion "beginner mode" and reaction time check," he said, adding that the company encourages riders to wear a helmet more than at present.

The Minister of Transport and Communications after talks with scooter companies and the city earlier this week Timo Harakka said it would be too much work to move scooters out of bars across the city, and added that it would be better to follow the example of Oslo, Norway, and ban service on weekends.

Alastalo said Friday that the problem could be solved by police by following traffic rules.

"We hope that the police will continue to focus on traffic management. Increased surveillance and the threat of a traffic error charge will encourage electric kickboarders to drive in accordance with traffic rules and are likely to reduce accidents. Butter is ready to share safety and mileage information with cities and other authorities as needed," he said.

Alastalo said late-night weekend downtime does not significantly affect the company’s results and that late-night rentals do not form a large part of its business, adding that most rentals were made during the day.

"However, we are also committed in many ways to improving night safety, as for many users, such as those working at night, it is a safe and affordable way to get home without their own car," Alsastalo said.

This article has been edited on September 3, 2021 at 1:19 PM and includes comments from Reetta Alastalo, Executive Vice President, Voi.

Source: The Nordic Page


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