Electric scooters a danger to users when driven legally: Danish police

Traffic laws require users of electric scooters to signal when using roads, but that could result in dangerous situations in practice, according to Danish police.

Electric scooters a danger to users when driven legally: Danish police
A badly-parked rental electric scooter in Copenhagen. Photo: The Local

Keeping balance on the scooters while signalling with one hand can cause dangerous situations due to the effect on the rider’s balance, the National Police Traffic Centre (Nationale Færdselscenter) told newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

In a report by the newspaper, a number of electric scooter users in Aarhus said they wanted to ride legally but found it difficult to keep their balance one-handed while signalling with the light vehicle in motion.

Traffic rules for the two-wheeled machines, introduced earlier this year under trial provisions, require riders to make the same signals as cyclists.

“You must put your hand out when you turn and put your hand up when you stop,” Christian Berthelsen, police assistant at the National Police Traffic Centre, told Jyllands-Posten.

In practice, the signals are far from ubiquitous on Danish bicycle lanes.

“But trying to comply with traffic rules on an electric scooter is challenging. It certainly needs a lot of experience using the scooters before this manoeuvre can be made smoothly,” Berthelsen added.

“As soon as you remove your hand from the handlebar, the scooter can become very wobbly, which could cause an accident,” he said.

The Council for Safe Traffic (Rådet for Sikker Trafik), a private organisation which campaigns for safer road use, called it a “paradox” that the electric scooters are permitted on roads at all.

Speaking to Jyllands-Posten, the organisation’s CEO Mogens Kjærgaard Møller called for political action over the electric scooters before a serious accident occurs in Denmark.

The electric scooters have appeared in their thousands in Danish cities since the beginning of the year, as rental companies take advantage of the trial traffic provisions to operate them.

They must be used on bicycle lanes and are subject to the same traffic rules as bicycles. They may not travel faster than 20 kilometres per hours and drivers must be over 15 years old.

The two-wheeled electric vehicles are often left badly parked, and authorities in Copenhagen have announced rules limiting their numbers in specified areas. Police in the city recently stopped 28 people in one weekend for riding the scooters while drunk or stoned.

READ ALSO: Electric scooters to come under scrutiny for impact on traffic and environment

Member comments

  1. Many of these companies have been rolling out similar programs in the United States recently, as well. In Tacoma, Washington State in the United States, there has been a vast injection of electric scooters as well as electric bikes for rent available since the beginning of 2019. Many problems have ensued including intoxicated users operating the devices, injury due to road imperfection, lack of helmet use to comply with local regulations, and poorly parked scooters and bikes. For some reason, many people seem to think that leaving them in a pile on people’s lawns or in alleys is an acceptable thing to do. This has caused many problems, as there is no enforcement mechanism or centralized area to leave the scooters and bikes properly parked. I feel as though without some careful thought given to infrastructure and city-wide roll-out, Denmark will likely experience some of these aggravating side-effects of use as well. Perhaps one solution would be to only allow these scooters to be activated or returned within certain geographic “zones” or “transit nodes”?

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Copenhagen to ban electric scooters from city centre

The city of Copenhagen wants to ban electric scooter rentals from the city centre, officials said Friday, in what would be one most strict regulations against a symbol of the new ‘sharing economy’.

Copenhagen to ban electric scooters from city centre
Electric scooters in Copenhagen. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix

“It will no longer be possible to rent or park an electric scooter in the majority of Copenhagen's most built up areas from January 1st,” the city's environmental and technical services department said in an email to AFP.

In practice, the measure will ban scooters from the historic city centre and adjacent neighbourhoods, where it is already prohibited to park them.

“Unfortunately, we have encountered major problems with these electric scooters… It is extremely difficult for seniors to get around when they are left lying about,” municipal councillor Rune Dybvad said on TV2.

The measure needs to be approved by the municipal council but enjoys widespread support.

Despite being a symbol of the ‘sharing economy’, riders are not always generous or caring of others, zipping between pedestrians and leaving scooters poorly parked, thus prompting a number of cities to adopt strict regulations on their use.

Police in the city last summer stopped 28 people in one weekend for riding the scooters while drunk or stoned.

READ ALSO: Electric scooters are 'seven times' more dangerous than bicycles on Danish roads