Hundreds of electric scooters from the five rental companies operating in Cologne lie on the bottom of the Rhine. Although the distributors are aware of the problem, they usually do not take any action.
Research of the West German Broadcasting (WDR) have shown that there are hundreds of e-scooters in the Rhine near the large Rhine bridges in the North Rhine-Westphalian metropolis of Cologne. Above all, the Hohenzollern Bridge in downtown Cologne is said to be a kind of junk hotspot for me at least 500 scooters sunk.
Vandals throw scooters into the river
Obviously in Cologne vandals are making it a kind of sport to throw the relatively easy-to-carry scooters from bridges or from the bank into the river. The rental companies have now responded at least in the form of geofencing to ensure that trips on their scooters can no longer begin or end near the Rhine.
However, with regard to the responsibility for the recovery and removal of the scooters already lying in the river, the WDR was able to take little initiative on the part of the rental companies. Only the rental company Bird announced to the broadcaster that it would commission a specialist company to rescue their scooters from the Rhine “as soon as possible”.
Construction diving specialist company encounters scooter scrap during all operations
Such a specialist company, for example, is headed by the Cologne construction diver Markus Hambüchen. He was recently asked by one of the largest scooter rental companies in Germany for an offer to rescue 500 scooters from the Rhine. According to Hambüchen, however, the lender waved his hand when he heard the price for the salvage. That is way too expensive. Then the scooters should stay where they are, the rental company should have communicated.
According to Hambüchen’s account, this is precisely not an option. On the one hand, he and his employees have come across e-scooters on almost every dive. It is not a handful or a few dozen, but hundreds. On the other hand, many of these scooters would secrete a “sticky mass” – an indication that the battery seals are leaking and secreting dangerous chemicals into the Rhine and the sediment of the Rhine floor.
BUND alarmed: environmental authorities have to react
This in turn alarms Paul Kröfkes, the water expert from the Association for Environmental and Nature Conservation Germany in North Rhine-Westphalia. He describes the behavior of the lenders as an environmental scandal. After all, the Rhine supplies drinking water to 30 million Europeans. He calls on the responsible environmental authorities to take immediate action.
When asked by the WDR about how to deal with the sunken scooters, the rental companies were very diligent. The rental company Tier claims that the company’s scooters are only very rarely thrown into the Rhine in such a way that they cannot be recovered immediately. However, none of the lenders wanted to give specific figures.