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Rent-a-scooters raise eyebrows in Helsinki

Scooters strewn along the capital's sidewalks are annoying residents.

Tier-yhtiön sähköpotkulautoja Kiasman edessä.
TIER-brand e-scooters in central Helsinki. Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle

This spring the streets of Helsinki have been dotted with electric kick-scooters, which users unlock using a mobile app. But many residents have been less than enthusiastic about the proliferation of the pay-as-you-go vehicles, saying the scooters junk up the city as they can be left anywhere since they don't have docking stations.

Two companies are currently offering the e-scooter rental service: TIER from Germany and Swedish company VOI.

Helsinki city councillors took up the scooter craze at their meeting this week.

"I commute through the city centre every day, and I see piles of these scooters lying in the street," said SDP city councilor Ville Jalovaara. "I don't want to ban them, I just want some ground rules on how to treat them."

Deputy mayor Anni Sinnemäki said that when it comes to problems, the city's hands are tied. She recommended that residents witnessing improperly parked scooters contact the company behind them.

The transit trend originated in California. Last fall the city of San Francisco banned electric scooters owing to residents' complaints, but later re-allowed them.

City's pilot phase begins

The city of Helsinki is also launching its own fleet of scooters alongside its already popular city bikes.

The pilot phase of the city's e-scooter project will kick off in the eastern suburb of Vuosaari, where 30 scooter stations fitted with 10 scooters each will launch sometime in May, according Helsinki Region Transport (HSL).

The city is launching the service with Russian company Samocat Sharing, which will provide the kick-scooters and app.

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