IT and Electromobility: Lars Zemke solves IT problems and is an advocate for light electric vehicles

28. August 2020

IT and Electromobility

Lars Zemke solves IT problems and is an advocate for light electric vehicles

Lars Zemke mit E-Einrad © WISTA Management GmbH

Having fun with micromobility: Lars Zemke on the electric unicycle © WISTA Management GmbH

It took a while until he was able to say: ‘I’m slowly becoming an Adlershoferian,’ he says. Just when he got used to saying it, the pandemic drove him out of his office at ‘Am Studio’ located in the former Solon factory. Lars Zemke is not a proponent of the working-from-home idea. He misses the ‘classic office’ and the water cooler talk, he says.

Working for Atos, an IT service provider, Zemke consults companies on how to work with the digital tools they have. ‘I come in when users are stuck.’ At least that is one side of his everyday work life. The other side includes being a negotiator at the transport ministry, a speaker at the German national transport law convention in Goslar, and an expert for the Bundestag’s transport committee. Since April 2019, Zemke has been head of the ‘Federal Association Personal Light Electric Vehicles’.

Viewed from Adlershof, his previous career largely took place on the opposite side of Berlin, in Siemensstadt, where the now 50-year-old started an apprenticeship as a communications equipment mechanic in 1986. He followed up this stint with advanced training as a so-called information technology electrician. Working in the IT department of Siemens, he has been a part of today’s digital transformation for a quarter of a century. When Siemens sold off its IT division, Atos, a French corporation, took over and moved its Berlin-based branch to Adlershof. Zemke would not deny that his job is also his private passion: ‘I love everything electric that blinks and buzzes.’

And so it comes as no surprise that he discovered micromobility sooner or later. Micromobility refers to small, lightweight, and battery-powered vehicles with one or two wheels. They may or may not have a steering rod and carry no more than one person. In addition to the ‘personal transporters’ of the Segway brand, which have been regulated for a while now, e-scooters have only been buzzing through Berlin since June 2019. ‘Unfortunately, the electric unicycle and the electric skateboard continue to be unregulated and driving them on German streets is subject to stiff penalties,’ says Zemke regretfully.

He learned this the hard way after buying an electric skateboard from a Californian manufacturer only to discover that he couldn’t use it on a public street. Only on Tempelhofer Feld, a large park in Berlin, a growing community can now take its electric vehicles out for a spin, dreaming of one day going out in the streets. When the community was told that the transport ministry only talks to organised interest groups, they founded the ‘Federal Association Personal Light Electric Vehicles’.

Their first success was the 2019 regulation on Personal Light Electric Vehicles that paved the way for riding e-scooters on bike paths. Zemke finds it too cautious. Why are only vehicles with steering rods in Germany considered fit for the road? An electric unicycle is small enough to be tucked under one’s arm and taken on the city train to Adlershof, where the driver can whizz to the office without making a sound. Zemke is convinced that this is what’s going to happen: ‘Everything has to start somewhere.’

By Winfried Dolderer for Adlershof Journal

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