By Paul Homewood
h/t Ian Magness
The war on car drivers goes on; no doubt it won’t take long for Sadiq Khan to join in:
In the UK, the rising tide of scooters was slowed by arcane rules that effectively banned their use on public roads. But after initial trials starting in 2020, rented e-scooters hired through smartphone apps have begun popping up in cities across the country.
A backlash has followed, with some pedestrians complaining the high-powered scooters are antisocial and clog up pavements when left lying around.
Fears have also been raised about their safety, with 12 fatalities in the year to June 2022. Last June, a 71-year-old grandmother became the first pedestrian killed by an e-scooter in the UK when she was hit by a rider.
Most deaths have been scooter users involved in road accidents, however.
An analysis by the Department for Transport found that scooter users were about three times more likely to get hurt compared to cyclists – with 13 “casualties” every million miles.
Wayne Ting, chief executive of Lime, the world’s largest e-scooter and e-bike rental company, believes it is not his transport that is to blame.
Ting, a former Uber executive and Obama adviser, says: “We know how to make riders safer and it is not by blaming modes of transport that are not creating serious accidents.
“The question is what is actually causing these accidents?”
For Ting, the answer is clear: cars. The solution? Make drivers go slower.
“We know how to improve safety, you slow down cars… in London, where they slowed the average car to 20 [miles per hour] they saw accidents go down.
“One accident is too many,” he adds, “but some people say we should ban scooters or e-bikes – imagine if a person gets hit by a car and people say we should ban walking?”..
The only road legal scooters are ones hired from an app such Lime and its rivals, including German-founded Tier and French start-up Dott. Speed limits are capped at 15.5 miles per hour.
The same is not true for most privately bought scooters, which can go much faster. Private e-scooters are still banned from public roads and pavements – although that does not stop some anti-social users clogging up walkways with scooters.
A government-backed study into e-scooters in the UK, published in December, found widespread examples of anti-social scooter use.
More than one in five scooter riders reported using them on the pavement, which is illegal, while 44pc of pedestrians reported having their path blocked by a badly parked scooter….
In my view, e-scooters are fundamentally unsafe, both for their riders and pedestrians. They cannot be compared to bicycles, which are much easier to control, and must be pedalled (even electric ones!). I cycle hundreds of miles every year, and have never felt unsafe. I certainly would not feel the same on an e-scooter.
If it had not been for the climate agenda they never would have been allowed on the roads in the first place.
From a personal standpoint, I have frequently seen e-scooters being used in an inappropriate and unsafe way, often by clearly underage riders.
According to the Department for Transport, it is illegal to use privately-owned e-scooters on pavements, footpaths, cycle tracks and cycle lanes on roads. Riders must have a driving licence.
To be used on public roads and in public spaces lawfully, they must conform to a number of requirements, including being insured, taxed, and used with relevant safety equipment and other conditions.
However, the DfT website states that “it is likely that they (riders) will find it very difficult to comply with all of these requirements”, meaning their use on public roads would effectively be a criminal offence.
If they must be on our roads, they should be speed limited to, say, 5 mph and only allowed in cycle lanes.
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