Spanish cities grapple with invasion of electric scooters

In Madrid, Lime’s scooters — which have already been used over 100,000 times — are tolerated by the left-wing city hall, intent on reducing pollution. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2018
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Spanish cities grapple with invasion of electric scooters

  • In Madrid, public opinion is divided over the hundreds of electric scooters which California-based start-up Lime has made available since mid-August
  • The arrival of the scooters in Madrid follows the introduction of a public electric bike share system in June 2014

MADRID: Cities across Spain are grappling with electric scooters that have popped up on sidewalks across the country, helping riders zip around but exasperating drivers and pedestrians.
In Madrid public opinion is divided over the hundreds of electric scooters which California-based start-up Lime — partly owned by ride-hailing Uber and Google parent company Alphabet — has made available since mid-August.
Unlike schemes involving shared bicycles that typically must be left in docking stations, the scooters are dockless, leaving riders responsible for parking them out of the way. The next rider can find the nearest scooter with a smartphone app, unlock it and use it for a fee.
Similar electric scooter sharing programs have been introduced in other European cities including Paris, Vienna and Zurich.
In Madrid, Lime’s scooters — which have already been used over 100,000 times — are tolerated by the left-wing city hall, intent on reducing pollution.
But the scooters are often left in places where they obstruct sidewalks — and their users often speed by pedestrians or hog roads.
Last month a video of two people, including a child, wearing masks while they raced along a highway near the Mediterranean port of Valencia on an electric scooter went viral.
“They don’t respect anything at all. We need rules. It’s crazy. They ride on lanes reserved for buses and taxis. They cross in front of cars,” Fernando Sobrino, a 59-year-old taxi driver, said as he waited for passengers in the center of Madrid.
Jose Manuel, a 55-year-old salesman, complained the scooters “ride on sidewalks without any control.”
“There is a risk of getting rear-ended by one as happened to me the other day,” he said as he made his way along the Gran Via, a busiest shopping street in central Madrid.
The arrival of the scooters in Madrid follows the introduction of a public electric bike share system in June 2014.
Users of the scooters are delighted.
“You move around faster, you can visit more areas, it’s relaxing and easy to use,” said Monica Rodriguez, 58, at Madrid’s bustling Retiro park.
She admitted, though, that the scooters can be “dangerous and annoying for people who are walking.”
The introduction of this new form of transport caught big Spanish cities off guard. In Madrid, which is home to around 3.2 million people, there are no laws regulating the use of scooters.
Now the municipality plans to introduce a new mobility plan that will include rules for scooters.
Valencia is set to adopt new rules banning scooters from sidewalks.
Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city which is overwhelmed by mass tourism, already bans the use of privately-owned scooters from sidewalks.
“Self-service” scooter rentals like those offered by Lime are banned.
When German firm Wind launched an electric scooter sharing program in Barcelona in August, within hours police removed the vehicles from the streets.
The municipality of Llobregat near Barcelona stopped Lime from setting up shop.
The scenario was repeated in Valencia, which has an extensive network of bike lanes.
Lime deployed a fleet of scooters in the city in August without authorization from city hall, which demands a license for anyone who carries out a commercial activity on public roads.
Lime’s scooters were removed and the firm was slapped with a fine. It is now trying to convince Valencia city hall to allow it to pay a fee in exchange for an operating license.
Lime’s representative in Spain, Alvaro Salvat, said he regrets the lack of specific laws for electric scooters in Madrid and most Spanish cities.
“We are the first to ask for them for our users, for residents, so we know where to go and where not to go,” he said.


Mo Salah’s wife: Egyptian women’s icon who shuns limelight

Updated 18 September 2019

Mo Salah’s wife: Egyptian women’s icon who shuns limelight

  • Salah prefers to keep his private life in general away from the glare of the media

CAIRO: Magi Sadeq, 25, is known for keeping a low profile in the media compared to the wives of other footballers. 

The wife of Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah has become something of a celebrity in her own right after appearing with her husband while maintaining a conservative look.

Salah prefers to keep his private life in general away from the glare of the media, but sometimes there is no escaping the spotlight for his wife and daughter.

Sadeq appeared with her husband at celebrations held by the Confederation of African Football when Salah won the African Player of the Year award. She also appeared with their daughter Makka during celebrations marking Salah’s winning of the Premier League Golden Boot award, and after Liverpool won the 2019 UEFA Champions League.

Sadeq was born and raised in Nagrig, a village in Gharbia where Salah was also born. It is the same place where they like to spend their holidays and special occasions whenever they have the chance.

FASTFACT

Sadeq appeared with her husband at celebrations held by the Confederation of African Football when Salah won the African Player of the Year award.

She has a twin sister, Mohab, and two other sisters, Mahy and Miram. Their parents were both teachers at Mohamed Eyad Al-Tantawi School, where she met the future Egyptian international.

Sadeq, who maintains a simple lifestyle, fell in love with Salah 10 years before they married. Their love story was the talk of the town where they lived.

They were married in 2013 as the player started taking his first steps in Europe with Swiss football club Basel. They married when he returned home for his first holiday.  

She keeps her husband connected to his rural roots. She doesn’t have any social media accounts, and unlike other footballer’s wives, she is not interested in appearance and makeup. She prefers to wear body-covering conservative clothes.

Sadeq and her twin sister both obtained their degrees in biotechnology from Alexandria University. She is responsible for her husband’s charity work in Egypt. Her neighbors say that she helps in buying the necessary home appliances and other needs of newly married couples. She also supervises charity work and regularly attends the special events staged by her village even though she has been made busier after her husband joined Liverpool.

Salah once said of his wife: “I am unfair to Magi as I give her the least of my time due to the nature of my work. I would like to thank her for her support and for being in my life.”