Waste of the modern era: numerous e-scooters were found at the bottom of the Rhine

    01 Jul 2021

    The first massive action of removing electric scooters from the bottom of the Rhine river will take place in German city Cologne at the end of June, DW reports. Recently, during the repair and arrangement of embankments, divers, who usually clean the bottom of the river from debris before work, found more than 500 electric scooters along the banks and under bridges.

    Upon learning of this, the rental company asked a specialized company of construction divers to make a preliminary estimate of the cost of cleaning the river bottom. However, after receiving the answer, the firm lost the desire to do it because of the high price. This caused outrage among the city authorities and a number of environmental organizations. They fear that after lying on the bottom for a long time, scooter batteries containing cobalt, nickel, copper, and various acids will start leaking and toxic substances will get into the water. The city’s water police have already begun investigating these facts. In particular, it investigates allegations against the management of firms of inaction that could have led or has led to environmental pollution.

    In electric scooters, the battery case complies with the international standard IP-67. This guarantees protection against penetration of moisture at immersion in water on depth to one meter within no more than half an hour. At the same time, some scooters have been lying in the river at a depth of up to five meters for several months. According to the city authorities, traces of pollutants that may enter the environment have not yet been detected in the river water.

    A telecontrol submarine with a manipulator will be used to remove electric scooters from the Rhine. Where scooters cannot be obtained in this way, divers will be involved. In the future, the initiators of Shared Mobility promise to hold similar events every six months, not only in Cologne but also in other cities.

    A number of scooter rental companies have said they have taken steps to prevent these vehicles from entering the river. In particular, VOI and Bird have changed the rules of use, according to which the trip can no longer end on the banks of the Rhine, and scooters can no longer be parked on the waterfront or on bridges.

    The use of electric scooters for street travel in Germany was officially allowed in June 2019.

    How many scooters are in the cities of the world?

    Mobility Foresights estimates that there are a total of more than 150,000 electric scooters in 177 cities in Europe and the United States.

    In Stockholm, for example, there are more than 14 thousand electric scooters, in Berlin – more than 11 thousand (as of 2019) electric scooters, and in Madrid – more than 8.6 thousand.

    There are now 15,000 electric scooters in Paris. There were even more of them until the city authorities introduced new restrictions in 2020: only three services can operate in the city, each of which provides five thousand rental units.Restrictions on the number also apply in San Francisco: each company can initially rent only a thousand scooters. However, if they are constantly provided with the appropriate level of service, they may be allowed to put up to two and a half thousand electric scooters on the street. Potentially, the city can have ten thousand units for rent.

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