Two people on an electric kick scooter late at night in Helsinki on 5 July 2021. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE CITY of Helsinki will begin to regulate the speeds of electric kick scooters.

Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) on Wednesday announced that Lime, Tier and Voi, the three companies renting electric kick scooters in the city, have agreed to voluntarily lower the maximum speed of the vehicles.

The companies agreed to limit the speeds at night across the city and also in the daytime in downtown areas, as well as lay down the traffic rules clearly both on their apps and websites.

“We had discussions about lowering the maximum speed from 25 kilometres to 15 kilometres per hour. It’ll be the City of Helsinki’s responsibility to determine how this is accomplished in practice and the regulation itself won’t be implemented until after the holidays,” he commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

The companies, he added, are prepared to take action immediately.

“It’s my understanding that these limits will come into effect immediately. The companies will probably implement the restrictions in slightly different ways. This is a minimum regulation. Some companies may be even more restrictive.”

“The companies understood that society won’t watch idly by when it’s paying for patching up inebriated young people at health care centres.”

The agreement was reached after he met the company representatives on Wednesday. The meeting was attended also by representatives of other transport providers, local officials and law enforcement, and Finnish Road Safety Council. The situation will be revisited with the companies in the autumn to determine if the number of kick scooter-related accidents has dropped sufficiently.

Harakka said he has received plenty of feedback from citizens who feel unsafe because kick scooters are being operated unlawfully on pedestrian-only roads.

The safety of the vehicles has stirred up public discussion throughout the summer. Helsingin Sanomat reported late last month that a record number of accidents involving an electric kick scooter took place in the Finnish capital region between May and June. The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) said Meilahti Hospital alone treated 143 people for injuries sustained in kick scooter accidents earlier in the summer.

HUS pointed out that high operating speed is a particular risk factor, especially when combined with intoxication and the resultant long reaction times.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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