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Rome hits the brakes on electric scooters – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

Had Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck jumped on an electric scooter instead of a Vespa in the classic film Roman Holiday, their ride through the Eternal City might have ended in tears.

The number of accidents and near misses involving the two-wheelers has prompted Rome authorities to bring order to a booming rental market that started two years ago.

The chaos came to a head earlier this month when two US tourists attempted to ski down the Spanish Steps at night, causing over 25,000 euros ($26,300) in damage to the 18th-century monument.

Caught on security footage, the couple in their late 20s were fined €400 each.

At the moment, it’s remarkably easy – all it takes is a mobile app – to hire one of the 14,500 scooters currently available in Rome, provided by seven licensed companies.

They are also cheap, unlocking it costs only one euro and then between 15 and 25 cents per minute.

And in the city known for its congestion and limited public transportation, they appeal to everyone from commuters to tourists to teenagers, who often squeeze in twos onto the narrow deck.

But there are challenges navigating the cobbled streets of Rome’s cramped historic center — which has virtually no bike lanes — leading some scooter riders to weave dangerously around cars.

“They cut you off. They pass right, left, get stuck in front of us and risk being crushed,” said Paolo Facioni, a 59-year-old bus driver.

Local residents also complain that they are dumped haphazardly on narrow sidewalks, blocking access for strollers and wheelchair users.

– Like a ‘video game’-

Electric scooter rentals have become a staple in major cities around the world, from London to Paris to New York, part of a global movement to diversify transportation away from vehicles.

But Rome’s taxi driver Gianni Ranucci, 56, called it “a real disaster.”

Tourists roaming freely through the busy streets seem to “think they’re in a video game!” he told AFP.

Figures on the number of scooter-related deaths and injuries show that this is not the case.

According to the consumer protection organization Codacons, 17 people have died in Italy in the past two years in incidents involving electric scooters.

His boss Carlo Rienzi last month described Rome as “a Wild West, with scooters going where they shouldn’t, often with two people on board exceeding the speed limit.”

The Rome police record an average of 15 accidents per month.

Given the dangers, City Hall is willing to tighten the rules and limit scooter use to adults who must show formal ID.

The number of operators will be capped at three and there will be restrictions on parking – a move expected by a US company, Bird, which recently announced its city center scooters could only be parked in designated areas.

Under new draft rules presented by AFP, which are due to come into force in January 2023, the speed limit will also be reduced from 25 km/h (15 miles) to 20 km/h on roads and six kilometers in pedestrian zones with no cars.

However, not everyone is happy with the proposed changes.

Twenty kilometers an hour “is too slow, we’ll get run over,” says 60-year-old Mariano Giorgi, who commutes to work on a scooter every day – and is one of the few people seen wearing a hard hat while driving.

“I live in the center and they are very useful, otherwise I would have to take the car, which would cause a lot more pollution,” he said as smog-belching traffic crept around Piazza Venezia near the Colosseum.

“If it’s not practical, I’ll stop using it.”

#Rome #hits #brakes #electric #scooters

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