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With an autonomous range of 25-40 kilometres and costing from €750 upwards, e scooters are being pitched as the future for travelling the last mile
Photo: Photo: FlyKly
Electric scooters have gone from being a plaything to becoming a clean, quick and comfortable way of getting around congested cities.
With an autonomous range of 25-40 kilometres and costing from €750 upwards, they are being pitched as the future for travelling the last mile. They are so wide-spread that Paris recently rolled out its first fleet of self-service scooters. But have they found similar success in Luxembourg?
“Without a doubt, the electric scooter has been our number one best seller over the past 12 months,” ElectriCity’s Frédéric Francisco told Delano, saying that the shop had sold several hundred units in that time. “Today it is so much simpler and faster to travel between the city centre and Kirchberg by scooter than by bus or car, particularly during rush hour,” Francisco added.
A morning in early September at Luxembourg City’s central train station shows a more muted picture. From 8:15am to 8:45am, I counted around five commuters on electric scooters, among them Benjamin, from Thionville, a recent convert to the cause thanks to a leasing scheme through his work. He came into possession of his electric scooter just one month ago. “I use it every day from my place in France to Thionville station then from Luxembourg City station to work. It’s about 8 kilometres per day,” he said, adding that he pays €40 per month over two years.
In the short time he has been using the scooter, he said he had noticed only one disadvantage—the weight. “It weighs 10 kilos, which is quite heavy.”
As Luxembourg grows increasingly congested, time savings remain one of the key attractions of the device.
10 minutes to get to work
Luxembourg resident Inés bought a scooter a year ago to shorten her commute time to her workplace in Kirchberg. “I used to live across the bridge. I would walk ten minutes to the bus stop and then on the bus I would be stuck in traffic. My commute took 10 minutes on the scooter.” She had initially considered buying an electric bike but ruled it out because of the restrictions it would place on clothing and for comfort reasons (namely the requirement of physical exertion and relatively good balance).
“The e-scooter is very light and the fact you’re in a standing position makes everything very easy,” she explained, adding it is easier to keep one’s whole body dry in a standing position in the frequent showers that visit Luxembourg. Unlike some of her colleagues who cycle, Inés says she uses her scooter daily, rain or shine, except in snow. And, while she wholeheartedly recommends the lifestyle, she is honest about the drawbacks—scooters cannot travel long distances on rough terrain like a bike can and it is difficult to protect against theft.
Inés says she has received some mixed reactions from other road users, even receiving abuse from motorists. “I think they like me even less than they like bikes,” she said, adding, “It’s true, I’m less visible than a bike and I can understand it would be a bit annoying…Cars have made me stop on the roadside in a dangerous place to lecture me and say I shouldn’t be on the road. But I do have the right to be on the road.”
Clarifying the law
Scooters are not specifically mentioned in law. However, an interpretation of the highway code assimilates their riders with cyclists, meaning that not only can they be used on the road but, where there is no cycle path, they are obliged to go on the road. But it remains something of a grey area.
Clarifying the legislation in Luxembourg and the EU could help clear up any misunderstanding between road users. Frédéric Richter of electric mobility shop Fun Garage suggests it could be a big advantage to reassure consumers and manufacturers. “I spoke with some electric scooter producers last year. They all stress the point that scooters are still not street legal. We have to mention to our customers; that it is still a grey area,” he said.
Transport ministry spokesperson Dany Frank told Delano that the law is unlikely to change but says it is adequate. She said: “The Luxembourg legislation is clear as far as scooters are concerned, even if it does not explicitly mention them. In fact, given all the new small electric vehicles that are being invented, such a generic legal definition is more appropriate to deal with new trends.”
And recent statements from transport minister François Bausch appear to suggest that they view e-scooters favourably. Responding to a parliamentary question, Bausch recently said he would be interested in rolling out a self-service rental scheme like the existing Vel'oH! bicycle scheme, as piloted by the SNCF in France.
And a Delano source suggested that some communes are also looking into it.