Both the Times and Daily Mail have run stories that the Government may permit electric scooters to be used on both roads and cycle paths. At present they are illegal except on private land. E-scooters can travel at up to 30 mph although there is a suggestion that they might be legally limited to 15 mph. The Government is intending to undertake a public consultation on the subject in the near future.
Comment: There certainly needs to be some regulations put in place about their use and to clarify the law. At present the fact that they are currently illegal to use on roads or pavements is widely ignored in London. There has already been one death to an E-Scooter rider in London (Emily Hartridge last year), and in those countries/cities where they have proliferated there are numerous injury accidents – for example there were 1,500 injuries involving them in the USA in 2018 and there have been several deaths in Paris.
As a frequent pedestrian in London this writer is already concerned about the number of cyclists who ride on the pavement. They can come up on you from behind silently and at speed and who wants to be hit by anyone or anything travelling at 15 mph or faster without warning? The elderly are particularly vulnerable as they can have bones broken or other injuries from which they cannot easily recover. This is a frequent complaint from pedestrians in central London who attend consultative meetings.
Mixing e-scooters with traffic might be dangerous as many riders do not wear crash helmets. But perhaps it’s no more dangerous than cyclists? However it surely would be a good idea to require licensing and insurance of all electrically assisted vehicles – both e-scooters and e-cycles. This would at least help to ensure reasonable standards of behaviour from such vehicle users.
Mixing e-scooters with pedestrians on pavements where the speed differential is so large is surely dangerous unless they were limited to 7 or 8 mph, but allowing them in cycle lanes should be acceptable even if cyclists may not be too keen on the idea.
There is also a question of whether e-scooters meet a need that is not currently satisfied. Users of e-scooters often use them for commuting quite long distances (many can do 20-mile trips or even longer before expiring). They can be cheaper than cycles, certainly than e-bikes, and are obviously easier to store as they take up much less space. So they do provide a very low cost option as an alternative to cycles or using public transport.
One aspect to bear in mind is that where they are permitted there are rental companies set up who offer a pick-up and drop-off anywhere service. This has meant that they get abandoned all over the place and have become somewhat of a public nuisance. This area would certainly need specific regulation.
What do readers think? You will be able to give your views to the public consultation no doubt but post your comments below if you have any.
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