A growing number of electronic scooters have been seen whizzing through the streets in the past year, and the coronavirus pandemic opened up a new chance for people to realise this is a great way of getting around, scooter rental companies say.
But existing problems need solving before they can expand fully.
The advantages of a scooter during the pandemic were clear: the roads were quieter and you avoided the close confines of a car or bus and the risk of catching the virus, manager of Youdrive lite Nikita Sosnin told the Sunday Mail.
“It was a very good time to ride a scooter or a bicycle, much safer than using public transport. Who knows what will change?”
While growing in popularity, the dearth of tourists this year has taken its toll on business.
“Last year we had thousands of customers in Limassol, Nicosia and Larnaca, but our main customers in Nicosia are international students, and they don’t go to universities at the moment,” he said.
In Larnaca, he says, business picked up after the business reopened on May 21, though so far only locals are around to take this opportunity.
Business in Limassol, meanwhile, has also stopped as the company awaits a decision of what the municipality will charge the companies for offering the scooter service.
Other problems concern certain areas, such as the old town in Nicosia, which is one of the few places in the capital where people cannot start and stop a ride.
“It is not safe. Too many people have tried to steal the scooters, so we have removed them from there.”
Sosnin is also awaiting planned legislation covering safety regulations.
The legislation should be amended so that providers know the users will be safe, and much depends on if and when such changes are made. Though talk of the changes started in 2019, so far no amendment has been passed, and with the coronavirus this year it has not even been a topic under discussion.
The changes would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to use an electric scooter.
Vehicles will be required to have a brake system, horn or a bell, steering handle, appropriate tyres, lights and mirrors in order for them to be road legal.
People using the scooters will also be fined if they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Sosnin explained his company already makes sure the users are at least 18 years old.
“When they register via the app, we ask for their name and birthday, and for an email address. No one under the age of 18 gets to rent a scooter.”
As for the rest, such as wearing a helmet, for now the company can only make recommendations, but cannot force anybody to abide by them.
How does renting an e-Scooter work?
One can book a scooter in the app by Youride lite or find one in a municipal parking and scan the QR code. To pay for the rental, registered customers must have money in their account, otherwise they are asked to add funds online.
After paying, the user switches the vehicle on and off by pressing the activate button. It shuts down automatically at the end of the rental period.
The eScooters travel at a speed of 20km/h with a range of 30 kilometres. If the charge level is down customers have to find the next municipal parking marked on the app to exchange the scooter for another one available at the parking.
“Simply scan the code and each scooter will show if it is fully charged, empty or how many kilometres are available, and chose the one you want to take next,” Sosnin explained.