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Pedestrians walk past rental e-scooters after the government announced that all rental e-scooters will be banned from March 2024, in Sliema, Malta October 20, 2023. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Malta to ban rented e-scooters from March


Malta to ban rented e-scooters from March

VALLETTA (Reuters) – Malta will ban all rental e-scooters from March 1 because of the inconvenience they cause pedestrians, the Transport Ministry said in a surprise announcement on Friday.

The decision had been taken because of “intolerable abuse,” Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia said.

“E-scooter violations are so rife that even doubling the number of enforcement officers overnight would not have solved the issue,” he said at a press event.

Private e-scooters will still be allowed, with incentives introduced to encourage people to buy their own.

The decision makes Malta the first European country to ban rental scooters, although the French capital Paris took a similar decision in September after holding a referendum.

Pedestrians, particularly in the coastal towns of Sliema and St Julians frequently complained of haphazardly parked scooters blocking walkways and access to garages and homes.

Motorists, meanwhile, told media organisations that scooters tended to appear out of nowhere, sometimes driving wrong way. Several major accidents were reported.

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The government said earlier this year that it was considering designated parking zones for the 5,000 scooters on the island, before banning them outright.

Sliema Mayor John Pillow on Friday welcomed the decision, saying the introduction of the scooters had lacked regulation, and abuse had not been controlled.

Cycling advocacy group Rota criticised the move though, saying in a statement that flaws in the system were due to a lack of political vision and unwillingness to regulate shared micro-mobility.

It said the authorities should focus on providing better infrastructure.

Farrugia said rental e-scooters did not reduce car use. “International studies and experience show that e-scooters replace walking and public transport and not cars,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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