After Barcelona already clamped down on e-scooters in public transport with a temporary ban after a fire on a train, Madrid and other Spanish cities are following suit with tighter restrictions.
Smoke and fire risk from defective batteries are the culprit, with a major explosion taking place in a Madrid subway in October due to a faulty e-scooter battery. From the looks of the photos, the explosion blasted out the carriage windows and did some serious damage, but luckily, there were no reported injuries.
In London, Transport for London put a ban on all private e-scooters and e-unicycles in public transport, including buses and the subway system, until further research could justify otherwise because of the risk of toxic smoke emitting from defective batteries – or worse fires or explosions. Want to store your e-scooter in the station lockers? That can’t happen either. The incident was sparked when an e-scooter caught fire on a packed train that was stopped at Parsons Green underground station – thankfully, no one was hurt, but one passenger reported smoke inhalation. This summer, Hamburg also banned e-scooters from its subway system until the transit authority Hamburger Hochbahn can be convinced otherwise.
In Barcelona last year, an e-scooter battery exploded and caught fire on board a train, injuring three people and inciting a ban on bringing e-scooters onto public transport. The incident, captured on CCTV footage, showed passengers rushing away from the fire as the carriage filled with smoke. Seville also put restrictions on public transport but only during rush hour and on weekends.
At least in Barcelona’s case, breaches will lead to a fine of €200, with other cities finding ways to enforce the new rule. Effective this week in Madrid, e-scooters are banned on Madrid’s vast public transport system, including interurban and urban buses in other municipalities and the Madrid metro system.
The trusty e-scooter has seen better days in Europe – once the micromobility darling of European capital cities, with rental companies like Dott and Lime putting tens of thousands of rental e-scooters on the streets and city dwellers embracing them in droves. But the tide has been turning, at least from a regulation standpoint, with Paris outright banning rental e-scooters earlier this year. The French capital pulled some 15,000 e-scooters from the city’s streets, which were then redistributed to other cities around Europe and Israel.
This, of course, is all bad news for e-scooter riders, and fires from defective lithium-ion batteries can blaze out of control and release toxic smoke – so this bad buzz isn’t going away any time soon. But there are measures to mitigate any risk of fires and hopefully turn some of this around. For one, experts urge consumers to not buy batteries or e-scooters (or e-bikes) in under-regulated marketplaces online, such as from Chinese sites – you kinda get what you pay for here. Also, make sure your e-scooter has been safety tested and certified (look for “UL”) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging, using the cord and power adapter made for the device.
The ink is still pretty wet on some of these regulations, so raising consumer awareness about battery hygiene and cheaply made products is a good first step in getting these environmentally-friendly solutions back in full use.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.