The top speeds of electric scooters for rent in Helsinki are decreasing at all times of the day, which is due to increasing accidents on weekends.
The decision was made on Tuesday after meetings with e-scooter rental companies (Oh, TIER and Lime), the Ministry of Transport and Communications and city representatives to prevent accidents.
Authorities continue to demand a total ban on the use of e-Scooters over the weekend at night, but no final decision was made on Tuesday.
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.
Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka said the reason for the new speed limits was due to hop accidents that bring people on duty on weekends.
"As a society, we cannot accept the transfer of costs from the private sector to public health," The magpie said.
Swedish scooter rental company Oh had hoped to avoid a complete night-time weekend ban by resolving the matter in other ways, but Harakka said in a press release that he wanted to make the rental scooters temporarily out of use on weekend nights next fall.
Companies on Tuesday suggested that e-scooters could be taken out of service near bars and pubs at night, but Magpie was wary of the idea.
"It would be a lot of work to move the electric kickboards away from the bars, and there are bars in many different areas of Helsinki. It is better to follow Oslo [Norway], where scooters are not available at all on weekends," The magpie explained.
Negotiations on the matter will continue in the coming days.
The story continues after the picture
Senior physician Arja Kobylin among others, HUS’s Acute Emergency Department has called for a ban on e-Scooters at night on weekends, saying the ban would significantly reduce serious injuries caused by accidents.
"The temptation to go home at night on an electric scooter is often so great that many people want to do it, and then accidents happen," he said, adding that alcohol-related accidents most often lead to injuries to riders, especially head injuries.
Scooters and booze = injuries
According to statistics from Töölö Hospital, the facility treated 133 people from 22 March to 29 August, including 88 men and 45 women, due to injuries related to the e-scooter.
There were a total of 69 alcohol-related accidents and 64 non-intoxicant-related accidents, but the majority of alcohol-related accidents occurred on weekends.
Hospital data showed that about 80 percent of accidents involving electric cyclists on weekends that caused injuries in the city during that time were under the influence of alcohol. According to the hospital, about 65 percent of those who suffered head injuries in accidents had consumed alcohol.
Chief Physician Kobylin said he believes people need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of electric kickboards to society.
Butter: E-scooters separately
Chief Operating Officer of the Scooter Company Oh Helsinki, Reetta Alastalo, said he was not enthusiastic about the night – time ban and pointed out that no other mode of transport is targeted at night.
He said some of the company’s customers use their scooters at night on a business trip and that the company has received feedback that the equipment was a good way to move around at night because it helps people avoid potential harassment.
The nave added that the problem of drunk driving must be implemented by laws restricting the blood alcohol content of drivers.
This idea has been proposed in the past, including e-scooter offices, authorities and politicians.
The story continues after the picture
Minister Harakka said compliance with blood alcohol limits can be difficult in large cities at night.
"Legislation is a very slow and clumsy instrument. However, we are making a broader change to Finland’s road safety strategy and they certainly refer to blood alcohol levels," The magpie said.
Police have also asked for guidance on alcohol limits for e-scooter drivers.
"I don’t think all vehicle drivers should be drunk. From a police perspective, of course, a blood alcohol limit would make monitoring easier." Senior Constable of the Helsinki Police Jani Markkanen said.
Could AI help?
Electric kickboard companies have proposed other strategies to solve the accident problem, including providing safety courses for riders. Constable Markkanen said he thought it was a good idea.
"Then at least people couldn’t say they were unaware of the rules," he explained.
Butter has offered road safety courses and graduates receive discounts on rent, but it is voluntary.
Alastalo said the company has also considered developing technology around battery-powered Scooters to prevent drink-driving, including a smartphone-based reaction test. The app can also use the phone to check if the riders have a helmet.
"This test is carried out from 1.00 to 5.00." he explained.
The test is mandatory to start the Scooters, but people are not prevented from riding regardless of the test results.
Butter has also started a pilot project that includes artificial intelligence and cameras that would prevent people from driving on sidewalks or other forbidden places.
"For example, the sign can warn the user with an audible signal when they are on the sidewalk [when prohibited] urge them to the right lane. The pilot project also aims to find out whether scooters could be slowed down automatically when it detects pedestrians," The nave said.
Such technology could also help keep scooters from lying on the ground, he explained, saying users would not be able to stop the rent meter unless the equipment was parked properly and standing upright.
Source: The Nordic Page