When electric scooters first arrived in Brussels, Belgium, in 2018, there were a range of reactions, from hopes around declining air pollution to drivers who feared how this would impact traffic. While neighbouring Amsterdam is best known for bicycles, electric scooters were welcomed in Brussels which at its peak had 20,000 of them.
However, some in the city want to reduce this number. A Brussels court has just ruled in favour of micro mobility operators Lime and Voi, after they challenged plans to cut the number of electric scooters.
Balancing electric scooter’s popularity and regulation on the road
In the past, the city of Brussels has hosted seven electric scooter firms: Dott, Bolt, Voi, Tier, Lime, Pony and Poppy. Together, they operated 20,000 e-scooters across the city.
Despite popularity with some, many residents complained about the impact of the scooters, such as being left in areas which prevent cars from parking. As a result, the city government in Brussels decided to put a limit on the volume of electric scooters and which companies could operate there. It suggested a limit of 8,000 electric scooters, operated between Dott and Bolt. As a result, fellow electric scooter operators Lime and Voi went to court to protest this.
Legal challenge unveiled by micro mobility operators
Lime contested the refusal of its application by Brussels Mobility, citing the selection process for micro mobility operators in the city of lacking transparency.
“Lime is always in favour of improving regulation for shared electric mobility,” said a spokesperson. “We have taken part in 67 similar competitive permit processes over the past two years, in 20 different countries in Europe and the Middle East. This extensive experience is why we were so troubled by the abnormal, accelerated process, carried out by the region in less than 30 days.”
Voi’s Chief Commercial Officer Olivier Van Calster said that Voi’s success is based on a philosophy of productive partnerships with the cities which host them, from Oslo to Seville and from Stockholm to Berlin.
“We have been present in Brussels since 2021 and we’re very proud of our contribution to the city, whose vision we fully support, and which is in line with the founding principles of Voi,” said Calster. “We are also fully aware of and support the importance of effective regulation to ensure both the quality of service and the safety of users and non-users.
“As part of the call for tenders in Brussels, it is with regret that we had to resort to legal action. We took this step as a last resort, to ensure that the process complies with public procurement rules and to protect the employment that we have created. We are willing to work with the Brussels region to define together the best path towards our common vision, in strict compliance with the rules governing public tenders, so that we do not create extra clutter on the pavement.”
A spokesperson for Brussels Mobility said that they will fight the ruling and see what its legal options are following this summary judgement.
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