Revealed: What you think of the rise of electric scooters in Germany

Are they safe? Are they fun? The Local asked readers to share their thoughts on electric scooters in Germany. Here’s the verdict.

Revealed: What you think of the rise of electric scooters in Germany
E-scooter riders in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Just over half of The Local readers say e-scooters in Germany are a “great” addition to the country’s mobility network. 

That’s the result of a survey we conducted to find out readers' views on the introduction of electric scooters to cities across the country.

Thousands of e-scooters have been filling up Germany's streets since they were given the green light at the start of the summer. But there have been calls for tighter regulations – and even bans – over fears of ‘chaos’ amid rising injuries. 

“E-scooters should be completely banned,” said Andreas Gassen, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), as The Local reported on Tuesday. “That’s the only thing that would help to avoid injuries,” he said. “From a medical point of view, they're just too dangerous, so get rid of them.”

Yet a majority – 52 percent – of respondents to our poll backed the vehicle's arrival in Germany, indicating that support is strong, while 16 percent said e-scooters are “alright”.  Another 16 percent said they find e-scooters “quite annoying”.

How popular are e-scooters?

A total of 56 percent of The Local readers said they had used an electric scooter in Germany, while 16 percent said they hadn’t but would like to. 

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of people said they hadn’t tried one.

Some authorities have called for improved safety measures and controls to be put in place, such as designated parking zones and compulsory helmets. 

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

Just under half (48 percent) of Local readers said that no one should be made to wear a helmet and that it should be an individual choice, while 36 percent said forcing riders to wear helmets would improve safety.

'Great addition to cities but there are problems'

When we asked if e-scooters are a good addition to your town or city, we had mixed responses. 

The positive reactions ranged from people saying they were  “awesome” and “super convenient”. Others said they could help in the fight against climate change.

“They make getting from A to B fun,” said Robert, 22, in Berlin.

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

Yet despite the support for the scooters, a lot of people said there were some teething problems. 

“Great addition (to Germany) but the parking of them on pavements is certainly an issue,” said David, 42, from Berlin. “Also, some e-scooter users are dangerous to pedestrians on the pavement.”

An e-scooter user being stopped by police in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Jeremy, 29, in Berlin, added: “It's a good addition to help bring people to train stations, and it could help reduce short bus trips (it does for me at least).”

However, he added that rules need to be enforced to keep people off the pavement and to limit bad parking. “It might help to have docking stations like some bike sharing systems,” he said.

Ian, 38, also in Berlin, welcomes e-scooters “to the mix of transport options needed for us to move away from cars”.

Meanwhile, Mog, 42, in Berlin, said: “I personally find them annoying but if they encourage people away from driving and have environmental benefits I can put up with them.”

Are e-scooters safe?

Again, we received a real mix of comments relating to this issue, with most people saying safety could be improved upon.

Some respondents said the two wheelers were fun to use but also dangerous. Ecem, 28, in Berlin said they are risky because it's “almost impossible to give a turn signal while riding”.

Berlin-based Svetlana, 31, is firmly against them. She said: “E-scooters are dangerous for both riders and pedestrians.”

A lot of readers pointed out they thought e-scooter riders were more careless than other road users – and that was a problem.

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

Marcelo, 25, in Berlin, “My biggest concern is that people do not relate e-scooters to bikes. If they were to follow the same rules it would be just fine.”

Pierre, 53, in Nuremberg, said he was surprised by how both cyclists and e-scooter riders seemed to take over pedestrian space.

“Many of them are quite aggressive and intimidating for walkers,” he said. “They should be in dedicated cycling lanes (on the roads) and not intermixed with pedestrians.”

Meanwhile, Omid, 37, in Berlin, called for “strict rules” for e-scooter riders who drive dangerously or park in the wrong place.

“There should be some heavy fines for all these situations,” he said.

Lena, 39, also in Berlin said she would like to see a ban on e-scooters, or legislation that ensures riders have a licence.

'Pricing is crazy'

Several people also pointed out that the cycling infrastructure in Germany can't cope with the additional vehicles in the network.

“Just like bikes, we need more parking places for bikes and e-scooters,” said Mo, 30, in Mannheim.

Some readers said Germany needed to think about reducing the space given to cars on the roads to allow for more bikes and scooters.

There were also a few comments on the price of renting an e-scooter, with lots of respondents saying it was very expensive. One respondent said they were using the e-scooters with a promo code but didn't think they'd use them without discount.

Roman, 32, in Munich, said overall he thought the introduction of e-scooters was a “great move” but added: “Pricing is still crazy.”

Thank you to our readers for helping us with this story

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.