Electric scooters from US-based firm Lime first appeared on Prague streets in September 2018, and since then have sharply divided public opinion.
The Prague 2 Town Hall in particular has been a vocal critic, and has banned them across the entire district, but the ban has been difficult to enforce without cooperation from Lime. Now the district claims a survey of residents backs them up, showing overwhelming opposition to the scooters.
The district held a survey on transport asking the opinion of its inhabitants on whether or not they want shared electric scooters in the neighborhood.
“The outcome of the vote is clear: the inhabitants of Prague 2 do not want electric scooters in the city district. This confirmed that the attitude of the city district, which is not backing down against Lime, is in line with the opinion of the majority of Prague 2 residents,” the district management said in press release.
The survey took place throughout the month of July, and was announced in the Prague 2 monthly newspaper Noviny Prahy 2, where a poll coupon was printed. A total of 396 Prague citizens voted answered whether they want shared electric scooters in the streets of Prague 2. Of these, 306 voted “no,” 82 voted for “yes” and eight were invalid due to unclear responses.
“We are the first city district to ask its people about their opinion of shared electric scooters. The result of the survey is not a surprise, I know from the reactions of our residents that many mind if electric scooters lie around and ride on sidewalks,” Prague 2 Deputy Mayor Jan Korseska (ODS) said.
The outcome of the survey is not binding, and it also due to its size and method it is not to be taken as statistically meaningful.
The district, though, does plan to take it into account in future negotiations with Lime. Prague 2 management intends to negotiate with Lime, representatives of the Prague City Hall and the Municipal Police on how to ensure the speedy removal of what it calls “unauthorized parked scooters” in the territory of Prague 2.
The district also points out that shared electric scooters are currently not allowed in Prague 2. ” In practice, this means that none should be parked on our territory, but Lime does not cooperate. The Prague 2 City District has now drawn attention to this fact to the Prague City Hall. The City of Prague initiated the setting of binding rules for the operation of shared electric scooters. The first shared electric scooters appeared in the streets of Prague 2 in the autumn of last year after their operator negotiated with the Prague municipality without the knowledge of the city district,” Prague 2’s press release states
The Pirate Party in Prague 2, which is not part of the ruling coalition, took issue with the methodology of the poll, which required people to read the district magazine, cut out a coupon and go to the Town Hall, while more modern methods such as QR codes could have been used. The Pirates also favor more constructive solutions to shared transport than an outright ban.
Lime previously has claimed it is trying to instruct its clients to learn about safe driving rules. But the company is still allowing the scooters to operate in Prague 2 after the ban, even though the GPS-based phone app could easily keep them from operating in the district by preventing them from being unlocked and locked there.
To use a Lime scooter, people pay 25 CZK as an initial fee and then 2 CZK for every minute. The scooters should go a maximum of 25 kph, and the Lime company recharges them when the battery runs low.
Lime was established in the US state of California in January 2017. It is mainly active in the US and is expanding to Europe. Its founders say they want to reduce people’s dependence on passenger cars for short-distance transport.
Prague also has several bike sharing and car sharing services, including one for electric cars.
This is not the first time that a transportation device has caused controversy. Segways were used in the city center for tours, but caused so much trouble on the narrow streets that they were banned starting in 2016.