Prepare Your Helmets: Jerusalem Braces for Onslaught of E-scooters

Three major companies are launching a pilot program in the city next month

A woman is riding an electric scooter in Tel Aviv. Soon in Jerusalem too.
Ilan Assayag

Is Jerusalem about to join the global cities with fleets of shared electric scooters? Three major companies in the e-scooter industry are expected to take part in a pilot program beginning next month in the city.

At the outset, the Lime, Wind and Bird companies will station a few dozen scooters in the Har Hahotzvim industrial park in the northwest part of Jerusalem, which was chosen to be first because of the particularly heavy traffic there. If the pilot is a success, and the operators are allowed to expand their operations in the capital, they will enjoy a big head start – and will join other locales including Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Givatayim, where e-scooters are in great demand.

Jerusalem has a large population, with a substantial number of young people who do not own cars; in addition, there are many tourists who visit the city and may avail themselves of this alternative form of transportation.

In general, e-scooters have great potential to solve the “last mile” problem” – i.e., how to reach your final destination after leaving a mass transport station, whether it’s the train, bus or light rail in Jerusalem.

In spite of all the advantages of electric scooters as an alternative to vehicles, which also reduce traffic and are environmentally friendly, local governments have realized that they must regulate the companies’ rapidly expanding operations. The Tel Aviv municipality did so about two months ago when it instituted new rules relating to electric scooters and bikes, including restrictions on the numbers of them permitted to each operator in the city, designation of permitted parking areas, and a whole list of safety regulations.

Meital Lehavi, the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, who also holds the city’s transportation portfolio, presented data when the new policies were announced, showing that shared electric scooters and bikes account for between 20 and 24 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles in use in the city. About 10,000 e-scooters are available there, which make about 1.5 million trips a month. Even though this is a relatively high proportion compared to other Western cities, use of the shared scooters still accounts for only 2 percent of all journeys taken in Tel Aviv.