What about e-scooters?

The sale of E-scooters is gradually increasing and over the summer it is possible that their popularity will increase even more. There are extensive trials of rental E-scooters taking place across England to assess their suitability for use in towns and cities. The E-scooter is classified as a PLEV, Personal Light Electric Vehicle, a type of motor vehicle.

There are some issues that need to be considered when thinking about the use of E-scooters.

Some rules about E–Scooters

  • E-scooters can be hired in one of the 30 or so permitted towns or cities in England such as Tees Valley, Liverpool, Nottingham and Slough. The number of towns permitting their use is gradually increasing.
  • The E-scooter must have an MOT and be road taxed, the rental company arrange this.
  • To drive an E-scooter you need to have a provisional driving licence as a minimum and be 18 years old.
  • In trial areas they can only be used on the roads (not motorway) and on cycle lanes.
  • They cannot be used on the pavement
  • Privately owned E-scooters (those not hired) cannot be used on the road or the pavement and can only be used on private land with the land owner’s permission.

Safety

  • The E-scooter has a speed limit of 15.5 mph.
  • Only one person may use the hired E-scooter
  • The rider does not need to wear a crash helmet, although they are recommended.
  • In Newcastle, their use has been stopped between 11 p.m and 5 a.m. because of a number of drink driving offences associated with them.
  • There have been concerns where riders have been riding on the pavement where the young, those with poor mobility, eyesight or hearing can be at risk of injury.

Pros

  • As they use electric motors, their use in town centres should improve air quality.
  • Their use could reduce congestion in town centres if people use them instead of cars.
  • Their use could reduce noise pollution in town centres.
  • Their use could reduce CO2 emissions and so help tackle climate change if the energy used for charging is renewable.
  • By allocating road space to scooters and bicycles this could make town centres a more pleasant environment for people to use.
  • If scooter hire is available at transport hubs, such as railway/bus stations, then this may encourage travellers to leave their cars at home and use e-scooters for the last miles to their destination.

Cons

  • At the end of a journey, the scooter is often just left on the pavement causing an obstruction.
  • The rental company that collect the scooters after use often use fossil fuel vehicles, which can cause air pollution and CO2 emissions.
  • The life of a scooter is quite short, 1 to 2 years, which means many have to be repeatedly made and recycled. This process creates CO2.
  • The electricity used to charge them may well not be produced by renewable supplies so their use can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • People may prefer to use e-scooters to walking, cycling and using public transport.
  • The E-scooter could have a detrimental effect on taxi use.

David Everson

EEAN Transport Group

Photo credit: Dirk Vorderstraße

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