Norwegian e-scooter riders must be allowed to use the pavements
November 2, 2022
By Kristofer Olai Ravn Stavseng, Public Policy Manager at TIER Norway
E-scooters are one of the most popular ways to get from A to B in Norwegian cities. As a society, we must work to make it as safe as possible. As long as there is a lack of bike lanes, we cannot force e-scooter riders off the pavement.
Many cities have strengthened their cycling efforts with bike lanes. Nevertheless, we have a way to go, as four top bureaucrats in the four largest cities of Norway recently wrote about in Aftenposten. Our cities are not safe enough, especially for cyclists or scooter riders, for us to turn them away from the pavements.
Unnecessary regulation is old-fashioned, especially when the central government is tempted to control something that the municipalities can manage themselves. In cooperation with the municipalities, we can regulate what is necessary. This is clearly seen in the TIER app, where we can define zones for slow driving and parking restrictions. We can do this because bureaucrats and elected officials know what works and not in their local communities.
A frequently used argument for banning scooter riders from pavements, is that care should be taken for soft road users. The problem with this argument is that one seems to forget that when compared to a bus, the scooter rider is the soft road user. Furthermore, we should direct more attention to the factors that actually cause the most accidents. In a study from TØI (2021), 93 percent of the accidents were single accidents, while half of all near misses involved other road users. Risk factors are slippery and uneven surfaces, traffic conditions and the design of the scooter.
We cannot risk forcing scooter riders into the 80 km/h zone, where there is no bike lane. This is also acknowledged by institutions and organizations such as the Police Directorate, the Council for Road Safety, the Automobile Federation and the Cyclists’ Association, according to a public consultation the government had this spring.
Scooter riders in Norway don't use the pavement for fun, but because it's necessary. What we need is good local regulation, more bike lanes and a reminder that we must always mind each other as road users.