E-scooters were supposed to fix travel in Rome. Then they became ‘loss of life traps’

Rome (CNN) — Rome, the everlasting metropolis, has been invaded, conquered and pillaged numerous instances since its founding practically 2,800 years in the past. Each assault has left scars all through town, from the ruins of the Roman Forum to the cavern of the Circus Maximus the place chariots as soon as raced.

Modern degradation has additionally left residents offended, fed up with what usually seems like complacency in what’s arguably one of the crucial stunning cities in the world.

The present invasion of the Italian capital comes from e-scooters — greater than 14,000 of them — trendy chariots that block sidewalks, unnerve drivers and kill.

Since rental scooters were launched three years in the past as a substitute to public transportation through the Covid pandemic, 4 individuals have been killed whereas driving them, in accordance to Rome City Hall mobility councilman Eugenio Patane. The metropolis’s emergency rooms deal with at the least one scooter-related main harm each three days, well being authorities say.

And but solely 2% (round 270) of the foot scooters for hire are used every day.

Rome City Hall has given licenses to seven corporations accountable for altering batteries, finishing up repairs, transferring scooters to high-traffic areas and fishing them out of town’s Tiber River.

It’s the scooters that are not in use which can be presenting the best problem, particularly to the disabled.

‘A collection of frights’

Officials say solely 2% of 14,000 rental scooters in Rome are in use.

Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto/Getty Images

As Giuliano Frittelli, head of the Italian Union for the Blind and Visually Impaired, navigates together with his strolling stick round a half a dozen scooters littering the sidewalk close to his workplace in town middle, he tells CNN that for individuals who do not see, they are a loss of life entice.

“The first drawback is the wild parking,” Frittelli says as he faucets his strolling stick on the bottom of a scooter, explaining that their uncommon form additionally makes it simple for somebody with impaired eyesight to journey over them.

He additionally says that as a result of they are electrical, they are silent, which can also be a risk to those that can’t see.

“You do not hear them so you can’t navigate round them,” Frittelli says, recalling an incident when a scooter handed a blind individual so intently their startled seeing-eye canine jumped off the sidewalk, inflicting what he known as “a collection of frights” that fortunately didn’t finish in bodily harm.

Frittelli’s group is working with Rome City Hall to make it obligatory that scooters are parked solely in designated stalls. He additionally desires them tailored to produce a noise stage of at the least 30 decibels so it may possibly function a warning of their method.

He says it’s not simply disabled individuals, together with these in wheelchairs, who battle to use the streets when the sidewalks are strewn with scooters. The aged and fogeys pushing child strollers are additionally affected.

Giuliano Frittelli

Giuliano Frittelli, left, desires it to be obligatory for scooters to be parked in designated locations.


Rome City Hall site visitors councilman Eugenio Patanè agrees. He tells CNN that as of January 1, 2023, town will renew the permission for simply 9,000 scooters and scale back the variety of corporations allowed to hire them to three.

He says that town additionally plans to require a proportion of the scooters to be positioned in the suburbs and different areas so common residents can use them for what he refers to as “the final mile” which may take them from a subway cease to their properties or enable them to run fast errands with out leaping in a automotive.

“They are a hazard to the individuals, however they are additionally an issue for town, for the great thing about town,” Patanè says. “The middle of town is a UNESCO heritage web site and could be very fragile and we’ve got to handle it.”

Ignoring the principles

A tourist recently threw a scooter down the Spanish Steps.

A vacationer just lately threw a scooter down the Spanish Steps.

Polizia Roma Capitale

In early June, two Americans were fined round $800 for throwing rental scooters down the Spanish Steps, inflicting about $26,000 price of harm to the delicate marble. The incident was caught on safety cameras and by passersby who noticed one of many vacationers throw the heavy metallic scooter, capturing the sound of it crashing into the steps.

The e-scooters are primarily utilized by vacationers and younger individuals, Patanè says.

And the principles are sometimes ignored, particularly those who prohibit use on sidewalks and restrict riders to one individual. Renters are additionally supposed to be 18 years previous. And town can’t oblige the rental corporations to present helmets, which means only a few individuals put on them.

Police checks are rare and fines are uncommon for scooter customers breaking the fundamental guidelines since it’s troublesome to implement the no-sidewalk rule when the scooters are typically parked on the sidewalks.

They seem to be successful with vacationers although. “To experience round, particularly the historic middle the place it is nearly unimaginable in a automotive, that is it,” Walter Hughes, from Dallas, Texas advised CNN.

“For that [two- or three-mile radius] that you just experience quick round, you can’t discover a parking spot for a automotive, it is too sizzling to stroll for 5 hours, so that is it.”

Not everybody agrees.

Taxi drivers who’ve had to weave by pedestrians and mopeds for years say the e-scooters are a far larger drawback.

Eduardo Conticello has had many near-misses together with his taxi and would really like to see scooters abolished fully.

He tells CNN that they usually cease brief in entrance of him or fall over. “When I see them I drive very, very slowly,” he explains, which provides time to his journeys, which means his passengers pay extra due to them. “They are very harmful.”

But life in the everlasting metropolis has by no means been significantly simple in its 2,800 years. Rome wasn’t constructed in a day, as they say. And its issues will not be solved in one both.

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