The chaos with e-scooters has been causing trouble for three and a half years. A WiWo survey shows how the cities are reacting and what they take stock of the problems and advantages of e-scooters.
However, a WiWo survey of ten major German cities shows that there are clear regional differences in the use of e-scooters. All important questions and answers at a glance: This is what the traffic planners in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, Dresden, Leipzig and Nuremberg think about the current e-scooter situation.
What is the e-scooter balance sheet after three and a half years?
The interim conclusion of the cities is mixed. In principle, many traffic planners welcome the fact that the e-scooters support mobility “for the first and the last mile”. The city of Leipzig writes: “The city’s experiences are basically positive.” Munich refers to the introduction of parking spaces for e-scooters, the conclusion is “consistently positive”.
However, many cities refer to the legal ambiguities and emerging problems. The Frankfurt Department for Mobility and Health writes that there is “still a clear need for regulation at federal level”. In fact, to date there is no relevant federal law. Many legal questions, such as the possibility of introducing municipal fees for e-scooter rental companies, have so far only been clarified by courts.
The city of Dresden announced that it was “not yet satisfied with the e-scooter rental systems”. E-scooters were launched with the aim of making a contribution to climate protection and the mobility revolution. However, “this goal has not yet been achieved”. The providers concentrated on the city center, “where there is already a good public transport offer and many routes can be covered on foot and by bike”. Hamburg’s traffic authority also writes that the e-scooters “have yet to find their place in a sustainable mobility chain”.
According to the responsible Senate administration in Berlin, it is still too early “for a valid balance sheet”. The experiences are “partly positive, partly clearly improvable”. “The first real stress test will be the coming season.”
Also read: Is this the end of e-scooters in Germany?
What problems do the cities currently see with e-scooter rental?
All cities report problems with illegally parked e-scooters upon request. The Berlin senate administration writes: “As a result, other road users are often hindered, and in some cases endangered.” The cities of Cologne and Stuttgart criticize the “reckless parking” word for word. This puts a particular strain on “wheelchair users, older people and people with restricted mobility and prams,” according to Dresden.
Berlin, on the other hand, introduced a mandatory special use permit for distributors in September. However, the situation has not improved sufficiently because “the disabilities and hazards are still massive”. The inventory from Munich sounds much more positive: “In individual cases, users unfortunately park e-scooters or bicycles unfavorably.”
In addition, several city administrations criticize illegal driving on sidewalks, in pedestrian zones, on streets in the opposite direction of travel or by several people on an e-scooter.
What concrete goals do the cities have when expanding the infrastructure for e-scooters?
All cities are committed to expanding the cycling infrastructure. This also benefits scooter providers whose scooters can be ridden on cycle paths. In addition, more and more cities are designating no-parking zones and setting up dedicated parking spaces for e-scooters in the inner cities.
Berlin, for example, wants to set up up to 150 parking spaces “at particularly neuralgic locations” in the Mitte district alone this year. So far, Munich has designated 43 parking spaces in the old town. By 2026, 200 mobility points are to be created that apply to all sharing offers.
The NRW state capital of Düsseldorf wants to implement a “parking ban zone with 100 sharing stations” in the city center by the middle of the year. More sharing stations should be set up at public transport stations and other important locations. In Nuremberg, 270 parking spaces including the periphery are planned. Leipzig, Stuttgart and Frankfurt also state that they want to expand a network of stations for e-scooters.
How do the cities want to control the scooter providers?
Some cities refer to the cooperation with the police to control the behavior of providers and users. However, one administration honestly admits that there is a lack of personnel for the authorities or the police to monitor providers around the clock. “Our control authority is the citizens.” If the population turns to the authorities with problems, pressure can also be exerted on the providers.
Which cities are planning a tender or the reduction of e-scooters in the city area?
In many cities, the number of e-scooters is already being reduced – or such a procedure is being considered or prepared. From the cities of Munich and Hamburg, however, it is said that no tender for e-scooters is planned here. Hamburg at least limits the fleet size per provider to 1000 e-scooters. After an expression of interest procedure, two providers are currently active in Leipzig, and “no other providers are planned to be admitted at the moment”.
Nuremberg is also planning an expression of interest procedure. The number of e-scooters should be reduced by more than a fifth to 4,000. The city of Cologne also wants to carry out such a procedure in the coming year. “A quantity limit throughout the city” is also planned, writes the authority.
It’s faster in Düsseldorf: the city announced that a call for tenders for an award procedure is currently being prepared there. This is accompanied by a limitation of e-scooters in the city area to 8400 scooters. The city writes that a procedure is currently underway in Dresden, after which a maximum of three providers would receive a permit.
In Frankfurt “there should be an invitation to tender”, but the necessary infrastructure with parking spaces must first be created. Stuttgart is also planning a selection process, which has yet to be decided by the municipal council.
And the capital Berlin, in which an estimated 50,000 e-scooters roll? An invitation to tender is being examined, in particular in order to limit the size of the fleet, writes the Senate Department.
What are the current special fees for e-scooters?
There are also large regional differences between the municipalities when it comes to fees. About half of the cities in Deutschland has not issued any, in the other cities the fees per scooter per year are between two and 130 euros.
There are no fees in Hamburg and Munich. Leipzig does not charge a user fee either, only an administration fee is charged for the permit. In Stuttgart there is no fee yet, but this will be introduced together with the special use permit. The same applies to Nuremberg, where contract negotiations are to take place in the spring with the providers who have expressed an interest.
Berlin and Düsseldorf distinguish between the center and the periphery: In Berlin, since January 1, e-scooters within the S-Bahn ring have cost 36 euros per year, outside the center the fee is completely waived. This should increase the incentive to also offer the vehicles in less frequented districts. In Dusseldorf, the fee is 30 to 50 euros per year, here too the fee is higher in the city centre.
The city of Oldenburg in Lower Saxony charges the lowest fees at two euros. In Frankfurt, the special use currently costs 30 euros per year, in Dresden the fee depends on the size of the fleet.
The cathedral city of Cologne charges the highest fee at 85 to 130 euros per vehicle per year. The city introduced the fee last summer, and a legal dispute with four providers is currently pending.
Special case Cologne: What is the city’s position on the legal dispute with some providers?
Among others, the interest group “Platform Shared Mobility” and providers such as industry leader Tier had sued against the Cologne fee. This is up to 13 times higher than the fee for a rental bike – although both take up about the same space.
In the first instance, however, the Administrative Court of Cologne agreed with the city: The amount of the fee is permissible, among other things because e-scooters are parked illegally much more often and thus cause higher costs. The written reasons for the judgment are not yet available. It is an open secret that the scooter rental companies will probably go before the Münster Higher Administrative Court.
The city of Cologne writes on request that it sees its actions confirmed by the verdict. When asked whether an out-of-court settlement with the providers was sought in order to prevent a long legal dispute, the authority wrote: They will “first wait for the case law on this case”.
Also read: Dispute over usage fee: is e-scooters coming to an end in Germany?