A walk through Brussels is incomplete without seeing an e-scooter, with the ubiquitous rental devices frequently left littered around the city. A report by RTBF reveals the scale of the issue and how badly parked e-scooters have disrupted the city centre.
Despite renewed calls for better cooperation between rental companies and municipal authorities, the issue of scooters strewn about the street and obstructing road users and pedestrians alike is ongoing. Last summer plans were set out by the regional government to enforce tighter regulations, though these have yet to bear fruit.
At the time of writing, most of the capital allows scooter users to park wherever they deem fit, with only three of the capital’s municipalities having taken action against bad parking.
In Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Evere and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, scooters must be parked in specific locations and users face fines if they are found to have left scooters in undesignated areas. But similar measures have yet to be implemented in the City of Brussels municipality, with the capital inundated with “10,000 scooters in the centre alone – the size of two football pitches,” according to The City of Brussels’ Mobility Councillor Bart Dhont.
Dhont told RTBF that “I receive a lot of complaints” about the issue. He believes this “has a real impact on our city’s accessibility” and gave the example of an elderly person with mobility issues “being confronted with a mountain of scooters.” Even the city’s Grand Place has at times been a dumping ground, despite its UNESCO heritage status normally making parking forbidden.
Although the city is still trying to “convince users to think about parking scooters properly,” this has proven difficult – even when scooter companies themselves impose payment penalties. Clara Philippot, local manager for Bolt (one of the eight rental companies operating in the city), said that “it is impossible to check everyone” when 25,000 scooter trips are per day in the city.
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While users have to take pictures of their scooters to prove that they were well parked, even scooter companies admitted that they struggle to ensure that these rules are respected. Other operators have pointed to Belgium's disjointed approach to the problem, which complicates matters for rental companies "since the municipalities are not aligned on the regulations.”
One solution which has been proposed is the creation of "drop zones", with Dhont claiming that the municipality has already invested in hundreds of them to be placed around the city. How long before these are rolled out is not yet clear.