Barbara Geier – Oktoberfest and e-scooters – a mismatch?

Regular and long-standing readers of this column (should they exist!) might know that I’m not your typical Oktoberfest candidate. Don’t like beer, to start with, and a couple of other things to follow. But never mind; Oktoberfest is over for another year, so why am I bringing up the topic here again? Well, it’s just to share another one of my little ‘found while perusing German media’ stories with you. This time it’s related to the Oktoberfest, beer – and e-scooters.

TEXT & PHOTO: BARBARA GEIER

Other than in the UK, where e-scooters are officially ‘verboten’ on the road or pavement and only allowed on private land (which, of course, doesn’t stop anyone from speeding about on them in London!), Germany has gone the expected proper and well-regulated route: i.e, there was comprehensive talk, discussion and consideration until everything was regulated sufficiently so that e-scooters could officially be let loose on German roads in June this year – without breaking any laws. Since then, scooter-sharing schemes have popped up left, right and centre, as have frequent complaints about accidents and other grievances about e-scooter drivers not adhering to general traffic rules.

Now, after the recent Oktoberfest, some interesting figures were released about drunk e-scooter driving (ha, loving it!). Many a visitor on their unsteady way home, after hours spent in one beer tent or the other, apparently thought it was a good idea to make use of the e-scooter for rent options – only to be stopped by Munich’s police, who had installed some intense traffic control action. The result: more than half of all drunk drivers in/on any kind of mode of transport were using e-scooters. According to police data, altogether 774 inebriated motorists (a record) were stopped during the two weeks of the quintessential German ‘Volksfest’, 414 of whom were rolling about on e-scooters (as opposed to 360 car drivers). Looks like some did not get the memo about the same alcohol limits applying to e-scooters as to cars.

In consequence, 254 e-scooter users had their driving licence taken away. Oops. As a spokesperson for Munich Police said, people probably don’t care about regulations that apply to e-scooters, because they don’t take them seriously as a means of transport and rather see them as a lifestyle product or ‘toy’. Well, anyone who’s now without a driving licence might be thinking differently now. To complete the round-up of ‘Wiesn’ 2019 e-scooter stats: after a good two weeks of Oktoberfesting, there were also 21 accidents with e-scooters recorded, including 13 involving alcohol and with 15 people altogether being injured. And here ends my story, or rather the story of human beings yet again overestimating their capacities (obviously an e-scooter is a proper means of transport, look at their speed!) – and underestimating the rigorousness of Munich’s police…

Barbara Geier is a London-based freelance writer, translator and communications consultant. She is also the face behind www.germanyiswunderbar.com, a German travel and tourism guide and blog that was set up together with UK travel writer Andrew Eames in 2010.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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