‘The scale of kicksharing work last year was insufficient for such a large city as Kazan’

‘The scale of kicksharing work last year was insufficient for such a large city as Kazan’
Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maksim Platonov (archive)

Spring has arrived, which means that kicksharing services will start working again in Kazan soon. There should be even more electric scooters on the streets this season. As Realnoe Vremya found out, Whoosh intends to expand its presence in the capital of Tatarstan and is already working in this direction. Read more about the plans of the kicksharing service in Kazan, as well as about the prospect of its return to Naberezhnye Chelny — in the material of the publication.

“The work is underway, dialogue has been established”

There is no specific start date for the electric scooter season in Kazan yet — everything will depend on the weather, Whoosh told Realnoe Vremya. The signal to return to the streets of the city will be the onset of a real spring — the absence of snow and temperatures above zero. It is expected that the number of yellow electric scooters will increase by 40%, to 2,8 thousand. At the same time, which is logical and natural, the number of parking lots for them is also expected to increase.

Whoosh also plans to increase the area for electric scooter rides. They want to extend it to new and remote districts of Kazan, as well as microdistricts with mass construction, especially in need of public transport.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maksim Platonov (archive)

Whoosh has already enlisted understanding and support from Kazan officials. They believe that the authorities of the capital of Tatarstan share plans to integrate scooters into the transport system. By the way, at the end of 2022, the service and the executive committee of Kazan formed a working group to draw up a plan and modernise the rules of kicksharing in the city.

“The work is underway, dialogue has been established. It seems to us that the administration understands that the scale of kicksharing work last year was insufficient for such a large and advanced city as Kazan, and the legal support of activities lagged somewhat behind modern realities. We hope that within the framework of the working group we will adjust the approach and, in accordance with the federal agenda, we will develop kicksharing in Kazan, already this season making it one of the most convenient cities for kicksharing in Russia. The city and we have all the prerequisites for this. The consent of the executive committee management to change the model has been received," Denis Balakirev, a spokesman for Whoosh, told Realnoe Vremya.

“The situation in Naberezhnye Chelny is very strange”

There are no plans for Whoosh to expand its activities in other cities of Tatarstan in the near future. The situation with Naberezhnye Chelny is not completely clear, where the service was already functioning, but was forced to leave because of the authorities, who are fiercely opposed to electric scooters, explaining their position with discontent and disapproval from the citizens. Whoosh intends to continue work on returning to the automotive city.

“The situation in Naberezhnye Chelny is very strange — even at the federal level scooters are recognised as transport, and comprehensive work is underway to develop kicksharing in cities, but the Mayor's office of Naberezhnye Chelny for some reason chooses a 'different path', ignoring both the desire of city residents, and ultimately the progress and objective development of urban transport, referring to the unavailability of infrastructure and, at the same time, without making efforts to improve it," Whoosh commented on the situation.

Let us remind that Whoosh started its operation in Naberezhnye Chelny in a test format at the end of April 2022, and already in May the executive committee of the city initiated the “evacuation” of a dozen electric scooters of the service, which were allegedly installed illegally. In response, Whoosh made an official request for support in settling relations with the authorities of the automotive city and announced plans to file complaints with the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maksim Platonov (archive)

The executive committee of Naberezhnye Chelny had its own version of events. They stated that on April 29, 2022, they held a meeting with Whoosh representatives, and the latter agreed with the proposed procedure, promising to remove the electric scooters and issue the documents properly, but allegedly did not do so. In this regard, on May 3, their transport was seized by employees of the district administration. Later, the scooters were still returned Whoosh.

Mayor of Naberezhnye Chelny Nail Magdeev is actively opposing electric scooters — he talks about their danger from time to time, and even in winter, when they are inaccessible for movement on the streets. In May last year, he said that a survey conducted in the automotive city, in which 5,6 thousand people participated, showed that almost 70% of citizens oppose electric scooters. At the same time, he assured that the authorities are ready to conduct a dialogue with everyone who wants to develop this business on partner terms, but with the established security framework.

“If you want to lose a child, buy him a moped or scooter. It is clear that it is modern and fashionable, but children are children, they use it in twos and threes. We can be treated differently, but don't count your chickens before they are hatched. We are in favour of creating the infrastructure first. You can get hurt for your money, and we'll stand aside. We, as the authorities, have to make decisions regarding a large number of people," Nail Magdeev said earlier this month.

In addition to the discontent of the residents of Naberezhnye Chelny, the authorities of the automotive city have another argument against the new-fangled means of transportation — the lack of necessary infrastructure for trips on electric scooters. And this, they claim, is fraught with injuries and even death. They recalled that in 2021, a girl riding an electric scooter died in Naberezhnye Chelny.

Whoosh hopes that the federal authorities will be able to “talk sense” into Naberezhnye Chelny. And the automotive city may indeed have to “obey” the recommendations of the Ministry of Transport of Russia.

Russian authorities — for electric scooters

At the federal level, amendments to the Rules of the Road will come into force from March 1, 2023, according to which electric scooters, and with them gyroscooters and monowheels will be called means of individual mobility. The speed of their movement will be limited to 25 km/h. Electric scooters heavier than 35 kg will not be allowed to ride on sidewalks, and those that are lighter will have to move no faster than pedestrians. According to Whoosh, the updated traffic regulations will add “order and comfort for all road users” and will reduce “the number of incidents caused by misunderstanding of certain rules of movement on a scooter around the city”.

Besides, this month the Ministry of Transport of Russia has prepared special recommendations for the regions. In them, the agency, proceeding from that electric scooters can become an alternative to personal cars and public transport, pointed out the need to create parking lots and infrastructure for individual mobility.

The Ministry of Transport asked the heads of regions to provide the necessary number of parking lots for electric scooters in public areas: on sidewalks, pedestrian paths and streets, near metro stations, public transport stops and near shopping centres. At the same time, they should not create obstacles for pedestrians.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maksim Platonov (archive)

“In fact, the existing practice has been confirmed at the state level: kicksharing is transport, it is an alternative to private cars, buses and the metro. Moreover, the Ministry of Transport calls on the administration to promote the development of the transport model of kicksharing," Whoosh said.

Tatyana Demina