E-scooter use in Malta has soared to an all-time high after recent statistics showed that the number of leased e-scooters climbed by over 1,500 over the last quarter.
According to figures published by the NSO, the number of leased e-scooters climbed from 668 to a record 2,259 from the first to the second quarter of 2022.
E-scooters serve as an environmentally friendly and accessible mode of transport for our islands. However, they have also been the subject of some strife, with many calling out their use as one that brought its own fair share of nuisances on the road.
In 2020, only 174 rentals were registered in the stock of motor vehicles issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO). The figure has now risen thirteen-fold in just two years.
This very month, PN MP Adrian Delia urged the government to introduce clear regulations on electric scooters.
Speaking with Lovin Malta, he added that it was simply ‘no use having non-polluting means of transport if their drivers don’t know the meaning of respect.’
His statement came off the back of a series of images that made the rounds on social media. Images of e-scooters parked haphazardly across pavements, obstructing the path for passers-by and especially, pedestrians restricted to wheelchairs.
Indeed, the structure of the vehicle played a part in a fair share of road traffic accidents, including that of one 27-year-old woman who was rushed to hospital with critical injuries after falling off a scooter whilst on the road.
Times of Malta reported that 4,702 e-scooter fines were issued in 2021, up from a mere four in 2020. Most fines – 1,491 – were issued to scooters that caused an obstruction or inconvenience to the public.
Meanwhile, 1,253 fines were issued for scooters left parked on the pavement, 724 for obstructing free passage, and 644 for parking on a double yellow line.
In addition, a quarter of all E-scooter fines issued last year were handed out in Sliema.
However, hundreds of fines ended up being forgiven after a court ruled that law enforcement officials had wrongly found a Bolt Malta official in his personal capacity rather than in his capacity as a company representative.
The hatchwarm viewpoint some pedestrians have adopted against the use of the vehicle has even led to heated confrontations.
On Wednesday 27th July, circulating footage showed a heated and aggressive confrontation between a Maltese man and an E-scooter rider in Sliema.
The man called the rider “a bitch” for driving too fast on the pavement, and at several points, even tried to hit the woman’s phone out of her hand as she recorded his actions.
The problems born of the irresponsible use of an otherwise helpful mode of transport have left Bolt with no choice but to take measures into their own hands.
Lovin Malta reported how Bolt is currently developing a new feature to stop users from illegally parking scooters.
The feature automates the process of analyzing scooter parking pictures. The real-time verification means that Bolt will help improve scooter parking habits.
Blessing or curse?
There is no question that E-scooters offer a means of transport that is not only environmentally sustainable but even smart in terms of the overwhelming traffic situation on the island.
On the other hand, a tighter hold on the regulations behind their use, in Malta, has seen the debate escalate to Parliament itself after PN MP Graziella Attard Previ famously said:
“In this country, we have a habit of waiting for a big accident before we take action, and by then it would be too late.”
What do you think of the numbers? Let us know in the comments section below