The electric scooter phenomenon reached Prague at the end of September. The scooters belong to American company Lime – a business that went from Silicon Valley start-up to billion dollar business in just 18 months.
After just three weeks on the capital’s streets, however, some Praguers are complaining about them, with Twitter feeds filled by pictures of discarded bikes blocking walkways as well as locals and tourists alike swishing on pavements at high speeds.
For some, the scooters are reminiscent of Segways, which are now banned in Prague. City Hall spokesman Vít Hoffman says the capital’s administration is not happy about how Lime dealt with their introduction.
“We have already brought it to the awareness of Lime that it is not fulfilling some of the conditions set out in the memorandum. The company has replied, stating that it will contact various city districts in the coming days to ensure that the conditions are fulfilled.”
The memorandum referred to was signed at the end of September and included an agreement that Lime would discuss with individual districts where the scooters could be left, so as not to cause inconvenience.
We got the opinions of some people on Prague’s streets.
Young girl from Prague: “I understood the complaints surrounding the Segways, that they were dangerous. But these scooters really are not a problem.”
Teenage tourist from Hamburg: “I think you shouldn’t ride them that fast on the pavement perhaps, but if the people are generally careful I do not see it as a problem.”
Older couple from the Netherlands: “I think it is just fun, but you must always watch out with electric things.”
“We are used to it because in Holland there are a lot of bikes.”
Middle-aged Prague women: “They are always there and get on my nerves sometimes.”
“Especially when there are groups of them.”
None of the pedestrians we spoke to knew that the scooters are not actually permitted for use on pavements – something that the spokesman for Prague’s Municipal Police force, Jan Čihák, warns could impact any prospective biker’s account balance.
“The person riding the scooter is considered a cyclist and is not allowed to use the pavement. Officers who come across such unlawful behaviour, for example riding on the pavement, or using one-way roads, can issue a fine of up to CZK 2000.”