Electric scooters parked across pavements have driven pedestrians and residents round the bend, though the authorities say they are “considering” the introduction of specific docking stations.
E-scooters have spiked in popularity, yet many are seen abandoned in front of doorways or dumped in the middle of pavements, sparking complaints from frustrated pedestrians on social media platforms.
The Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA) has issued 793 fines to e-scooter users this year so far, due to “obstructions, dangerous parking and inconvenience to the public”.
Asked whether Transport Malta is willing to invest in docking stations in areas such as St Julian’s, Sliema and Gżira, a spokesperson for Transport Malta said: “Investment in any type of infrastructure that enables and supports the end users of all modes of transport is encouraged and supported by the authority, hence not excluding the introduction of specific docking stations.”
The spokesperson said the legislation is clear on how and where such e-scooters should be used.
“This is based on a free-flowing model, which as much as possible does not limit the end user with designated parking areas. This aims to further encourage the use of alternative and more sustainable modes of transport which are the forefront of Transport Malta’s agenda.”
The spokesperson pointed out that many e-scooter trips do not pose any problems, and that such vehicles were providing an alternative mode of commute for citizens for shorter trips, therefore keeping more cars off the road.
Transport Minister Ian Borg told Times of Malta it is the responsibility of e-scooter users to be considerate if micro-mobility is to be a success.
“We have to show respect, be it an elderly person, or a person with mobility issues walking on a promenade or pavement. There cannot be excessive speed.”
On the matter of docking stations, the minister said for scooters’ use to be effective, they are to remain dockless, “so it is not necessary to return them to a fixed location”.
Laws regulating the use of e-scooters have been in place since 2019, stipulating that users “may park on pavements and promenades or on footpaths and in pedestrian zones but not in a manner as to obstruct the free flow of pedestrian traffic”.
Bolt E-scooter manager Vladimir Puzanov said the lack of adequate infrastructure is the reason behind the current surge in fines, especially when it comes to parking scooters.
He said Bolt has provided an alternative mobility option to the public, invested in the education of the users of e-kickscooters and implemented mechanisms to report any inconvenience caused by the scooters.
“It is time for the authorities to step up and recognise this effort through the provision of adequate infrastructure, a shift from outright enforcement to an education-first approach and the application of proportionate fines when this is necessary,” Puzanov said.
He said the surge in fines is also a concern, as apart from the cost of the fines being “disproportionally high”, it sends the wrong message to those interested in using an alternative mode of transport.
“After all, many other situations are blocking access to pedestrians in Malta’s roads – be it cars, rubbish bags on pavements, private development on buildings, lamp posts, damaged pavements. Are lightweight eco-friendly scooters really the biggest concern?”