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Parking bans and restricted zones: How German cities plan to crack down on e-scooters

Sharing vehicles, such as electric scooters and bikes, are to be banned from parking on pavements in Berlin. It’s one measure some German cities are taking to deal with the influx of e-scooters.

Parking bans and restricted zones: How German cities plan to crack down on e-scooters
An electric scooter parked on a pavement in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Electric scooters, which have been registered in Germany for two months, are undoubtedly popular, especially among tourists. 

But some cities are now looking to tighten the rules on them  – along with other sharing vehicles such as scooters and bicycles in one case.

According to a survey by DPA, some authorities are working with e-scooter providers to negotiate agreements on topics such as parking zones and more education for riders.

Here's a break down of the situation across some major German cities.

READ ALSO: 'Improve cycling infrastructure': Can Germany cope with electric scooters?

Berlin

In the capital, the city wants to ban all sharing vehicles (like e-scooters and bicycles) from parking on pavements.

In future, the vehicles will have to be parked at designated spaces at the roadside. Authorities say car parking spaces will be converted to use for e-mobility vehicles. 

“Electric scooters have once again brought the issue of pavement protection into the spotlight,” a spokesman for the Berlin Senate Department of Transport and the Environment told Focus Online.

E-scooters parked in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

The aim is “to preserve the pavements as areas for the most vulnerable road users”.

It makes Berlin one of the first major cities in Germany to attempt to regulate sharing services more strongly. The plans could become a model for other cities.

It follows complaints about electric scooters clogging up sidewalks and causing problems for pedestrians. Senator for the Environment and Transport, Regine Günther, of the Greens, held meetings with the scooter suppliers last week.

“We will also reach agreements with other sharing providers on how to use the planned parking spaces on the street,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn, which operates around 3,500 Lidl sharing bikes in Berlin, reacted in surprise to the plans. So far, they have not been contacted by the city, but said they are open to a discussion.

The city hopes there will be a “reliable agreement” with sharing providers. If the providers do not keep their promises, other measures will be examined at the federal and state level – such as tighter controls or a change in the law.

“There is a right to traffic, but there is also a right to the protected space on the pavement,” the spokesman said.

Günther has already said rental scooters can no longer be parked at the Brandenburg Gate, including Pariser Platz, and at the nearby Holocaust Memorial. In the apps of several large rental companies, these areas are now registered as restricted zones. 

E-scooters are not allowed to be parked at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In the Mitte district, parking is no longer allowed in all public green spaces. District mayor Stephan von Dassel, of the Greens, had complained in the past weeks about the mass of e-scooters and riders violating rules. There had also been several complaints from locals.

Dresden

The eastern city in Saxony wants to create special zones where e-scooters cannot be parked.

The zones include tourist magnets such as the Altmarkt or the Schlossplatz. However, there is no legal obligation, and it is dependent on cooperation with the rental companies. In addition, each company should operate a maximum of 2,000 rental scooters in Dresden – 300 of them in the city centre to avoid overcrowding.

There are currently no parking regulations for e-scooters at the federal level. However, there are some rules: the vehicles must be used on cycle paths – if there are none, users have to go on the road and avoid pavements. Users must also stick to a speed limit of 20 kilometres per hour and be aged 14 years or older.

There is no obligation to wear a helmet.

Cologne

The city has agreed a so-called quality agreement with providers such as Circ, Lime and Tier. The agreement also includes prohibited parking zones such as those around Cologne Cathedral and parts of the Rhine promenade.

This means that although users can ride in the zone, they are not allowed to park the rental electric pedal scooter there. The zones are marked by GPS and sometimes appear in the apps of the providers as red marked areas.

READ ALSO: Should electric scooter riders in Germany be forced to wear helmets?

Munich

In the Bavarian capital, authorities are more relaxed at the moment. Although there have been complaints about parked electric pedal scooters, the city administration does not currently see a major problem with them.

Together with loan providers, the city has already drawn up a voluntary declaration of commitment to rules and conditions. For Oktoberfest at the end of September, there will be special rules for e-scooters around the festival grounds. However, the authorities and the providers are still coordinating on this.

An electric scooter rider in Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Hamburg

“Currently there is not a problem” is the opinion of the traffic authorities in the Harbour City. A spokeswoman said that the complaints to the police are low.

With four e-scooter firms represented in Hamburg to date, the city has already agreed on around 500 no-parking zones. Above all, the areas around the water and green areas are protected from carelessly parked e-scooters.

“In this respect, we are not planning to expand the zones in which the rental of scooters cannot be parked,” the spokesman said.

Frankfurt

There are no conditions in the Hesse city, Hans Preißl, a traffic officer, said. “At present, we can do no more than say with a firm voice: 'This is not possible'.”

The number of complaints is quite high, but this is always the case in the transport sector, said Preißl. “It's just a new vehicle in our city.”

READ ALSO: Will fines for electric scooter riders improve safety?

Hanover

In the Lower Saxony city, e-scooters have only started appearing all over the streets in the last two weeks. A police spokesman said there have been no major problems so far. Authorities said it was forbidden to park the scooters in parks.

Mannheim and Heidelberg

Things are just getting started in these cities. The rental company Tier Mobility has set up 100 to 150 vehicles there for a week and wants to increase the number. Stuttgart will soon follow with three suppliers, including the German subsidiary of the US company Lime.

Lübeck

And the scooters are also on the road in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein. There's already been a slight mishap – police had to fish a very badly parked scooter out of the Trave river. Perhaps more regulations lie ahead to avoid this in future?

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EXPLAINED: How Germany is finally set to improve Wifi and phone signal on trains

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn says it will seriously improve the country's notoriously patchy Wifi and phone signal on trains. How will it get up to speed?

EXPLAINED: How Germany is finally set to improve Wifi and phone signal on trains
A passenger connects to the on-board Wifi on a train in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance / Andreas Arnold/dpa | Andreas Arnold

What’s going on? 

The chairman of Deutsche Bahn appeared in a press conference with the CEO of Deutsche Telekom on Wednesday to announce a new partnership which they say will “radically improve” Wifi and phone signal throughout the German rail network.

From 2026, the companies want all passengers be able to make calls and surf the internet on all routes without interruption and with vastly improved data rates. 

READ ALSO: ‘We’re running late on this’: Deutsche Bahn promises better Wifi on German trains by 2026

In a press release following the announcement, Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges said the companies wanted to make Germany “more digital”. 

“Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn have a shared responsibility for their customers,” he said. “That’s why we are now also tackling the issue of rail coverage together and want to ensure that customers can make phone calls, surf and stream in the best quality.”

So, what’s the plan? 

Bahn and Telekom are basically planning to build out the network coverage of the railways step by step over a period of five years.

The German rail network covers almost 34,000 kilometres, with around 7,800 kilometres of this making up the country’s key rail routes for ICE and IC trains. This is the part of the rail network that the two companies plan to focus on first, with the aim of providing seamless coverage by 2024. 

By 2025, the companies plan to supply another 2,000 daily passengers with consistent Wifi by covering another 13,800 kilometres of busy rail networks.

Then, the following year, travellers on smaller regional routes will also get phone signal on their trains – in some cases for the first time. 

Telekom said it would be putting around 800 new cell sites into operation in the coming years, as well as expanding its capacity at hundreds of other sites in order to improve the mobile network all along the railway lines. 

Sounds expensive. Who’s paying?

It certainly is. The expansion to the network will likely to cost hundreds of millions of euros, with Telekom and Bahn splitting the costs between them.

According to Höttges, Telekom has invested €700 million into railway mobile networks since 2015, and plans to invest a further €300 million over the next five years. 

Meanwhile, the Bahn has set aside €150-200 million to invest in the project.

READ ALSO: Delayed train? Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to give online refunds for first time

It’s unclear if this will include money from government subsidies, though the German Minister for Transport, Andreas Scheuer (CSU), did appear with the two companies at the press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bahn is a private, joint-stock enterprise, though the German government is its sole shareholder.

Is the mobile network situation really that bad?

While Germany is in the midst of digitalising its economy, the train network is widely regarded as one of the weakest areas of mobile network coverage. According the a report by the Federal Network Agency, mobile network providers currently only supply around 94.4 to 98.2 percent of the railway routes with service.

While this may not sound particularly bad, the result is often patchy signal, interminable dead zones, and phone calls that continuously cut out – especially on Germany’s smaller regional train routes. 


The Wifi symbol is displayed on the door of a German high-speed train. Photo: picture alliance / Soeren Stache/dpa | Soeren Stache

At present, there are around 550 more antennas needed near railway tracks to provide passengers with decent mobile reception. 

According to Höttges, trains in Austria and Switzerland offer much better Wifi and mobile service than in Germany.

Haven’t we been here before? 

You could say this is something of an ongoing project.

Passengers have been clamouring for better Wifi on German trains for years, and in 2015, the government stipulated that the mobile networks on rail routes had to improve.

At this point, the telecoms companies were given a deadline of 2019, which Höttges made reference to in his speech at the press conference. 

“We’re running late with this, I’m aware of that,” he told reporters. 

In 2019, the government set a target of achieving 100mb-per-second internet across all the busiest train routes in Germany by 2022.

Does this mean we’ll have superfast broadband on trains soon?

Not exactly. From 2024/5, Deutsche Telekom is promising data rates of up 200mb per second along all major rail routes, which is considered an average base speed for urban areas. 

According to tech blogger Ken Lo of Ken’s Tech Tips, with 200mp-per-second download speeds, you can watch eight ultra-HD films on eight different devices, or download an entire album of music in three seconds. 

In other words, it should be more than enough to watch a film or two on a train journey.

For smaller regional train routes, passengers can expect speeds of 100mb per second, which still counts as “fast” broadband, but on the lower end of the scale. 

Does it matter that I don’t have a Telekom mobile contract?

If you enjoy making phone calls on trains, it could be beneficial to get Telekom as your mobile network provider, since the increased reception will primarily benefit people with Telekom contracts.

However, if you just like using the on-train Wifi, your provider won’t make a great deal of difference, since you’ll be connecting to Telekom’s wireless network anyway. 

READ ALSO: Deutsche Bahn to introduce its own ‘Siri’ to better assist customers

It’s also important to mention that the other mobile network providers haven’t been resting entirely on their laurels.

Vodafone and Telefonica have also been involved in talks with Deutsche Bahn about improving the mobile signal along the rail network in line with government targets. 

According to recent news reports, these talks are still ongoing. 

What are people saying about it?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Minister for Transport Andreas Scheuer (CSU), who had pushed for a deal between the two firms, hailed the move as an end to the ‘I have no network’ era.

“Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are showing the way by systematically closing the gaps in the mobile network on all rail routes and significantly increasing data rates once again,” he said in a statement. “This is what the future of train travel looks like.”

But not everyone was as excited by the promise of better mobile reception – or the 2026 deadline – as Andreas Scheuer.

Sharing a picture of the Morgenpost on Twitter, software developer Andrew France summed up the news story in a single line.

“Hot of the press is that you’ll be able to make phone calls on trains from 2026,” he wrote. 

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