A note of caution on the roll out of e-scooter trials

In launching an extensive trial of electric scooters in London, Will Norman, the walking and cycling commissioner, says that:

“No-one is going to be riding all the way across London on one, but what I wanted was enough ‘joined-up spaces’ to make this work.”

Evening Standard

I’m sad to say that people will, if they aren’t already. The Government-backed trials of e-scooters are taking place in many locations, including in Canterbury, to look at their positive and negative impacts and how they could regulate them in the future.

And there are some obvious environmental benefits which Mr Norman points to, if people use them as an alternative to cars. Sales are soaring, but the schemes already in place are contributing to confusion around the law. I’m regularly receiving complaints about the inappropriate use of e-scooters.

Outside of the trial areas, you can’t use them on public land, but many already are. This places an additional expectation on the police to do further enforcement (which they are) and I’m aware of one council who has already asked directly for this outside of their trial area.

There are other issues too. For example, you must be over 18 to use an e-scooter. During an awareness campaign on the law surrounding e-scooters I ran at Christmas, I was even told in a Facebook group that I should:

Let kids be kids… mine have one and they ride it out on pavements they certainly don’t run it into people or cars…it’s a craze at the moment just let them enjoy life while they’re still young! More important things to worry about than a child riding a scooter…

Facebook Post

Besides the fact you are enabling children to put themselves and the public at risk. Parents have a role to play here as well.

We are in danger of adding problems to the road network rather than fixing some of the outstanding issues that we have, creating extra burdens on policing. It’s similar to the problems I have warned about with smart motorways. There aren’t enough refuges, and so safety risks have been created before some of the solutions – like improved lane cameras – are live.

So let’s solve the issues now, else their use, and the associated confusion and risk, will continue to grow.

Guidance on e-scooters can be found here.

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