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Operators introduce e-scooter night speed limit in Helsinki

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Shared e-scooter operators in Helsinki have introduced a speed limit between midnight and 5am on weekends due to a rise in alcohol-related incidents.

Voi, TIER and Lime currently run rental schemes in the city and proposed the initiative to the Ministry of Transportation and City of Helsinki.

The announcement came after calls from doctors in Helsinki for e-scooters to be banned at night over the weekend following a series of accidents, although Finland Transport Minister Timo Harakka told Euronews Next that a full ban would be “too stringent”.

“The number of accidents has not decreased as desired and we are aware that e-scooter accidents burden health care too much,” he said.

“It should be noted, however, that a categorical ban on some form of mobility could be too stringent a measure. Instead of a categorical ban, we should consider more effective supervision, technical solutions and other possible restrictions.”

Instead, a speed limit of 15kmh has been brought in between midnight and 5am on weekends, with the operators also proposing a pilot scheme to further improve safety in the city.

The pilot would see operators shutting down the service between midnight and 5am on weekends from September 3, with plans for the pilot to be assessed on December 31 by independent road safety experts.

The operators would also lower the speed limit to 15kmh between midnight and 5am throughout the week, while lowering the day time limit from 25kmh to 20kmh as a pilot.

In addition, TIER Voi and Lime have committed to implementing a 15kmh limit between midnight and 5am throughout the week in all of the Finnish cities where they operate, as well as to finance a nation wide road safety campaign together with the Finnish authorities.

A TIER spokesperson told Zag that it was “committed to working with cities and other authorities” to improve safety standards.

“We are pleased that the entire micromobility industry in Finland was able to support us in this and agree on a set of common standards across the country,” they said.

“In addition to these measures, TIER commits to go even further, commissioning independent research to support the city in developing policy that enhances road safety for all.

“The research will be launched immediately, helping to identify the right actions for operators to take to improve safety and increase the knowledge base of this new mode of transport in Finland.”

A Voi spokesperson added that safety was the firm’s “first priority” but rejected the idea of a blanket ban.

“To help to solve the urgent problem of drunk riding here and now we are willing to trial night shutdowns,” they told Zag.

“However, we feel that banning e-scooter riding at night is not the best way to solve irresponsible behaviour in the long term, as it does not permanently improve the way riders approach drinking and riding.

“E-scooter companies are committed to improving safety at night time and we believe this mode of transport has a crucial role to play in helping to keep night workers and those out at night safe. For most people, they provide a safe and affordable way to get home without a private car.

“E-scooters are a new way to travel and we have seen the number of Voi trips in the Greater Helsinki area increase by 800% from April to July, compared with 2020. This strong growth could also be behind a temporary spike in accidents, particularly since the risk of injury to riders decreases after the first couple of rides.”

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