E-scooter users need to be responsible and considerate when using them if micro-mobility is to be a success, Transport Minister Ian Borg said on Wednesday.
Taking questions from the media, the minister was asked about reported issues communities have been having with the scooters.
Residents have complained about scooters being left haphazardly on pavements or being driven too fast in pedestrian zones, while drivers have flagged the presence of scooters on heavily trafficked arterial roads.
Statistics reported by Times of Malta last month indicate that enforcement on scooter users has increased dramatically. Enforcement agency LESA issued 793 fines for offences concerning e-scooters in the first half of 2021, up from just four in all of 2020.
'Riders need to be responsible'
“We need to find a balance. I believe in this mode of transport but the people who make use of it also need to be more responsible,” Borg told journalists.
“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.”
Borg said while the law was initially criticised for not being liberal enough, he felt that the legal notice had “achieved a balance”, but that there could be a discrepancy between the terms of the law and what is actually happening on the streets.
He noted that the legal notice regulating e-scooter use clearly stated speed limits and corridors where the devices could be used.
Important for e-scooters to be dockless
Bicycle advocacy group Rota has criticised the lack of docking stations for scooters, saying the fact that scooters do not need to be docked has led to them being left along beaches, pavements and roads haphazardly.
Its president, Michelle Attard Tonna, said docking stations should have been in place since the beginning but should now be provided.
“If these are not provided, the (scooter providers) should be penalised or not allowed to continue operating,” she said.
But according to the minister, the decision not to require docks was a considered one.
“We found that in order for micro-mobility and the concept of the last mile to be successful, it is only effective if the scooters are dockless, so it is not necessary to return them to a fixed location," he said.
Borg added that enforcement was in the hands of agencies like LESA and the police, but said that feedback from scooter service providers indicated that they felt that their users were receiving “too many” fines.
“Overall the law is balanced but the problem is largely that irresponsible people don't obey it.”