Six hundred more e-scooters have arrived on Vienna streets with provider Hive, as the low-slung two wheelers continue to polarize public opinion and inspire peculiar trends.
Electric scooter rentals are taking over cities worldwide, growing from service in five to 70 cities in 2018 alone. With fees as low as €1, the dock-less scooters have quickly become established as a quick and affordable way to get from point A to B, while at the same time becoming increasingly polarizing.
According to the government’s new traffic regulations passed by parliament this week (Apr 25), e-scooter riders throughout Austria will, as of June 1, will be subject to the same rules as cyclists: sidewalks will be off limits, traveling speed capped at 25 km/h and blood alcohol at 0,8 promille.
The policies do not come as a surprise: While highways accidents were down in 2018, fatal accidents involving motorcyclists and cyclists in Vienna increased by 10%, including 17 electric bike and scooter riders, and 25 children under the age of 15 have been injured.
E-scooters are not a separate vehicle category, but “they should be,” says Otmar Bruckner of the Transportation Ministry. Minister Norbert Hofer (FPÖ) hopes that “the National Council’s decision to update e-scooter regulations will reduce the number of accidents.”
In the meantime, businesses are hoping to cash in. Transport provider Uber has invested a total of $335 million in Lime, while the popular German food delivery service, Delivery Hero stands behind Flash . With a limit of 1,500 scooters per provider, companies must expand their services to more cities to show the growth to appeal to investors; in most cases, data on profitability remains elusive.
Those who have already reported profit are the “juicers” – those who collect displaced e-scooters and charge them overnight. “This is fast money,” says Stefan, a cashier by day, to der Standard. From rogue volunteers, juicers became recognized by companies like Lime and Bird, who offer pay for the job. Charging one scooter may bring up to €5.
Two more rental providers are reportedly on the waiting list to operate in Vienna, raising questions of market saturation and need for further regulation.