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E-scooter characters

The E-scooter Gang: The people who ride Berlin’s most hated vehicles

The e-scooter is a controversial vehicle, and that’s in no small part due to the people who ride them. Whether they are endangering themselves, or others, people on e-scooters are loathed in Berlin. That said, there is more than one kind of annoying e-scooter person. Here is our taxonomy of annoying e-scooter riders.

The overloaders

How many people fit on an e-scooter? Photo: Imago/Stefan Zeitz

Pre-e-scooter, these kids would have been on BMXs. They are still up to no good, kicking bins over, screaming obscenities, spitting on passer-bys and scaring retirees, but now they do it with a reasonably priced environmentally unfriendly electric vehicle. Racing and skids are still par for the course, but you’d be hard pressed to get three teens on BMX. Why are they on our most wanted list? Mostly it’s because they insist on riding on the footpath instead of the road. We’d say “Do better kids” but we’d be doing the same if we were their age. 

The tech-obsessed

This e-scooter character fails to get going. Photo: Westend61

E-scooters can be easily unlocked with an app, or so you would think. This very simple process is unfortunately nigh impossible for certain people. Matching an app to a scooter is a bit too difficult for some people. The annoying ones however, are those that are so tech-obsessed that they insist on persisting, getting angrier and angrier as they struggle to get the damn thing to work! They block the pathway for half an hour swearing loudly, pushing the scooter around before giving up, kicking it over and slinking off ashamed. 

The suits

Elegant and mobile: e-scooters are often the first choice for business people. Photo: Imago/Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto

The suits used to drive those e-Vespas. Them, and all the tech bros working at start-ups. But those are out of fashion these days. Now it is all about the e-scooter. You see them gliding down Friedrichstrasse in their boat shoes or heels, leather messenger bag over one shoulder, casual summer jacket, business dress or,  worst case scenario, novelty socks and cufflinks. Many of them even own the e-scooter, because sharing is for plebs, according to some. 

The klutzy

Better not to get on a scooter if you are clumsy. Photo: Imago/AndreyPopov/Panthermedia

Everyone knows a klutz. Most of them are aware of their coordination deficiencies, and as such avoid certain situations that might risk life and limb. But for whatever reason, there is an inordinate amount of clumsy, uncoordinated people riding e-scooters around Berlin. They stumble over debris, get stuck in gutters, slam into cars, poles and pedestrians. Why they’ve decided this is the hill they want to die on, we don’t know. But one thing is for certain, if you aren’t well coordinated, e-scooters aren’t for you. 

The owner class

Your very own e-scooter. Wow. Photo: Imago/Westend61

That’s right, renting is for the working poor. The true future of mobility is owning your own e-scooter, apparently. The basic models aren’t too expensive actually. Three hundred euros is enough to get scooting around town. But if you think you are doing the environment a favour by not driving, think again. If you consider the emissions created by making batteries, they aren’t very green at all and no one has yet come up with a battery that lasts longer than two years. In any case, make sure you lock yours up securely, private e-scooters are often stolen by the aforementioned scooter gangs. 

The ‘Titanic’ couples

E-Scooter Romance: “My Heart Will Go On”. Photo: Imago/Westend61

Personally we find it much more adorable when you see three teenage boys embracing on the same scooter, but the couples re-enacting the Titanic scene are also cute. The Titanic Couples only need two small tires and a battery to feel like Leo and Kate at the helm of a giant ship. As romantic as it is, please don’t close your eyes! You are not the king of the world, you are two people without helmets surrounded by multi-tonne vehicles who haven’t noticed you! Keep your eyes on the road and not on your lover if you ever want to be painted like one of his French girls again. 

The bold seniors

Never too old to ride. The bold seniors are among the coolest e-scooter characters. Photo: Imago/Westend61

This type we actually don’t find annoying. Closely related to the Cross Country E-bike Senior, the Bold Senior is just as daring with a similar zest for life. They are the exception rather than the rule for their age group, who are still struggling to unlock their iPhones. Good on you grandpa, grabbing life by the balls and risking it all for one final thrill. We salute you and your attitude. 

The tourists

The e-scooter is a great way for tourists to get around. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

Anyone who previously found sightseeing in Berlin unbearable should definitely avoid the area around Brandenburg Gate now. In addition to tourist zombies shuffling from one Starbucks to the next, the giant bike tour groups who don’t know the road rules, and pedestrians fleeing in panic from that guy in the Mickey Mouse costume, there is now also a new species of tourist to fear: The e-scooter tourist. Its exact origins are unknown, but this interesting specimen is a hybrid of all of the aforementioned types. Keep a safe distance: Whilst not as aggressive as the e-scooter gang, they are just as dangerous, especially if they have been drinking. 

The closeted

“The e-scooter? No, that’s not mine.” The secret fans are ashamed of their hobby. Photo: Imago/Westend61

There are apparently, closeted e-scooter fans. People who find the e-scooters absolutely thrilling (who doesn’t) but are ashamed to admit they do so. Even for the most radical e-scooter opponents, the forbidden can lure you into temptation. If it didn’t feel good, nobody would, right? Just one hit doesn’t make you an addict, right? I’ll drive it at half speed, that means I’m not really an e-scooter person, right? Be who you are guys, the world always becomes a better, more colourful place when you do.

The death wish kamikaze riders

Beware of the kamikaze drivers. Photo: Imago/Andreas Gora

No fear, no consideration, and soon, no brains. Is it bravery or stupidity? The kamikaze riders blur the line between genius and madness, dodging in and out of traffic, running red  lights, crossing three lanes without even glancing over their shoulders. We love an excuse to flip off an SUV driver as much as the next guy, but at some point you are risking it all to save a few seconds! Often there is a bit of alcohol involved, a terrible idea if ever we’ve heard one, but who dares to stop these cowboys, and what’s more, how? 

The multitaskers

These e-scooter characters can beat a high score while driving. Photo: Imago/Westend61

It used to be an exclusively Dutch thing. Your first time in Amsterdam you definitely saw someone riding a bike, texting with one hand, rolling a cigarette with the other, barely paying attention to their surroundings. Which is fair enough in the Netherlands, the bike lanes are ubiquitous and safe there. But somehow this habit has migrated east, and now Berlin is full of multitasking e-scooter riders. Unfortunately, they aren’t as skilled as their Dutch cousins, and the streets here aren’t exactly safe for anything that weighs less than a tonne. 

The ‘Wild’ parkers

E-scooters are often standing or lying in awkward places. Photo: Imago/Gottfried Czepluch

One of the big criticisms of e-scooters: the way they are parked. Or rather, the way they are strewn across footpaths, pushed into canals and flung up trees. A mild inconvenience for some, it’s genuinely dangerous for the blind and those with reduced mobility. These days it is not uncommon to come across a submerged scooter whilst swimming in the lake or see one poking out of the undergrowth when walking in the forest. Sure, lots of people park them properly, and sure, once you’ve parked it you don’t have any control over what a random passerby might do to it, but one thing is for certain: Wildparken geht nicht.