Critics have called for an end to a year-long e-scooter trial in Newcastle after just seven days – after riders ditched helmets, rode on pavements and almost hit pedestrians.
Some 250 electric scooters were opened up to the public for the first time last week as the Government decides whether to legalise the use of e-scooters on public highways across the UK.
But just a week in, the trial has seen riders almost collide with buses and pedestrians, refuse to wear a helmet and even share one scooter between two.
People in Newcastle city centre, Jesmond and Gosforth enjoyed 8,000 journeys on the 15mph machines in the first seven days – at a cost of £1 to unlock and 18p a minute after that.
Some 250 electric scooters were opened up to the public for the first time last week as the Government decides whether to legalise the use of e-scooters on public highways across the UK. Pictured, a teenager rides an e-scooter on a pavement and without a helmet in Newcastle
Avril Deane, a retired newspaper columnist who lives in the Jesmond area of the city, told the PA news agency: ‘It’s a free-for-all at the moment.
‘They are riding on the pavements, none of them are wearing helmets, we are all supposed to be socially-distancing but you see two people on a scooter.’
She was told a bus driver had to swerve to avoid a collision with one rider.
Ms Deane said she thought trialling an e-scooter scheme during lockdown was a bad idea, especially because they are not washed between uses.
She said: ‘People are just having fun, I accept, but it’s not the right time, it’s putting everyone at risk.
Avril Deane, a retired newspaper columnist who lives in the Jesmond area of the city, told the PA news agency: ‘It’s a free-for-all at the moment.’ Pictured, a rider demonstrates the correct way to use the e-scooters
‘I think it’s a crazy scheme to have launched at a time of pandemic.’
Members of her local residents’ association agreed with her, she said.
People enjoyed 8,000 journeys on the 15mph machines in the first seven days
Greg Stone, a Liberal Democrat on Newcastle City Council, said it was a good idea in principle but feared it might end like an ill-fated bike hire scheme which ended with many of the cycles being dumped in the River Tyne by vandals.
He said he supported schemes aimed at reducing traffic emissions, but wanted reassurance e-scooter use would be properly monitored and policed.
‘I can see it’s a fun novelty for people to try, but they have to interact with traffic and pedestrians,’ he said.
The e-scooters are currently free for NHS staff and use is limited to the city centre, Jesmond and Gosforth.
They are legal on roads, and in bus and cycle lanes, and are available via operator Neuron’s app for over-18s who have a full or provisional driving licence.
Newcastle City Council said ‘in the vast majority of cases’ people have been sticking to the rules, and the minority who have not have been reminded they could be banned.
Just a week in, the first trial of its kind has seen riders almost collide with buses and pedestrians, refuse to wear a helmet and even share one scooter between two. Pictured, an e-scooter in Jesmond
Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: ‘It’s great to see that the majority of people are using the e-scooters in line with the rules that they have agreed to follow and which are there to keep themselves and others safe.
‘There have been a small number of incidents where people haven’t followed the rules, and Neuron have taken swift action by suspending at least one irresponsible rider from the service.
‘Everyone who signs up on the Neuron app is made aware of, and agrees to adhere to, the riding rules.’
It comes after a man on an e-scooter was spotted speeding along a busy dual carriageway and weaving through traffic at 50mph
A Neuron spokesman said: ‘So far, the vast majority of Newcastle riders have behaved responsibly and the feedback has been extremely positive.’
It comes after a man on an e-scooter was spotted speeding along a busy dual carriageway and weaving through traffic at 50mph.
The shocking video footage even showed him doing wheelies and standing on one leg as he approached a roundabout during rush hour on January 31 on the A972 Kingsway dual carriageway to the north of Dundee in Scotland.
Driving groups slammed the rider as dangerous and irresponsible – saying he could have endangered himself and other motorists.
Can you legally use an e-scooter on the road or on the pavement?
According to the Department of Transport, e-scooters are classed as ‘powered transporters’ and meet the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’.
They must therefore meet a number of requirements in order to be used on the road, including having insurance and conforming to ‘technical standards.’
Privately owned e-scooters are considered illegal to use on roads in Britain. The Metropolitan Police has said riders risk being fined or even having penalty points added to their licence. Riders also risk having their e-scooters seized by police.
In May 2019, the Metropolitan Police ran an operation in London seizing e-scooters which were being illegally used on the city’s streets
The Met has warned e-scooter users from riding their machines on the road
The Department of Transport said e-scooters are covered by the 1988 Road Traffic Act, which also includes Segways, hoverboards, go-peds (combustion engine-powered kick scooters), powered unicycles, and u-wheels.
The ban does not apply to electrically-assisted pedal bicycles.
According to the Department of Transport: ‘For motor vehicles to use public roads lawfully, they must meet a number of different requirements. These include insurance; conformity with technical standards and standards of use; payment of vehicle tax, licensing, and registration; driver testing and licensing; and the use of relevant safety equipment.
‘If the user of a powered transporter could meet these requirements, it might in principle be lawful for them to use public roads. However, it is likely that they will find it very difficult to comply with all of these requirements, meaning that it would be a criminal offence to use them on the road.’
In July 2020 the UK Government introduced legislation trialling the use of e-scooters, through local authorities, for a period of 12 months via approved rental companies. The vehicles are capped at 15.5mph. Around 20 locations are involved in the trial. Privately owned e-scooters cannot be used in the trial areas.
Privately owned e-scooters can be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.