Arrests have been made over the misuse of Newcastle’s new e-scooters, which will now be switched off overnight amid serious safety worries.
New restrictions are being imposed on the electric vehicles, following complaints about them being ridden illegally and irresponsibly.
The city council’s head of transport, Graham Grant, confirmed to councillors on Thursday afternoon that all of the scooters will be shut off between 11pm and 5am – and revealed that police had made a number of arrests the previous night.
Northumbria Police later confirmed that it made seven arrests in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Of those, six men have now been charged – five with driving a motor vehicle while over the legal limit and the other with failing to provide a specimen. The other person arrested was released with no further action being taken.
The six men charged, all between the ages of 19 and 22, are all due to appear at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on March 25.
The five charged with driving a motor vehicle while over the legal limit are:
- Joseph Vesey, aged 22, of Devonshire Place, Jesmond
- William Mcmullen, aged 19, of Falconer Street, Newcastle
- Jamie Swain, aged 21, of Bayswater Road, Jesmond
- George Richardson, aged 20, of Stepney Lane, Newcastle
- William Attridge, aged 19, of Stepney Lane, Newcastle
Rian Dunne, aged 20, of Cavendish Place, Jesmond was charged with failing to provide a specimen.
One person has already been banned from using the Neuron e-scooters and at least four others are currently under investigation, Mr Grant said at a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.
City residents and councillors have raised concerns this week about the e-scooters, including complaints about them “racing” up and down Sandyford Road at 4am.
Other issues raised have included people riding illegally on pavements or two people to a scooter, as well as children riding them when they are restricted to people aged 18 and over who have at least a provisional driving licence.
Mr Grant said: “There have been issues encountered and, for example, last night there were arrests made over people and their behaviour on the scooters in a certain area of the city. In response, we have discussed with the police and from tonight e-scooters will not be switched on or able to be used between the hours of 11pm and 5am.
“That will continue until the end of lockdown and we will keep it under review.”
More than 10,000 trips have been made on the e-scooters since they launched in the city on February 16, while almost 200 NHS or emergency services staff have taken up the offer of free passes for the vehicles while the country remains in lockdown.
Confirming the 11pm cut-off time, a spokesperson for Neuron said: “The vast majority of Newcastle’s riders are behaving responsibly and are using the service as intended however there are always exceptions.
“All of our riders sign up to a comprehensive list of riding rules before they are allowed to take their first trip. They highlight that they need to be over 18, have a driving licence, and that only one person is allowed on an e-scooter at a time. The rules are clear when it comes to not riding under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and of course they get guidance on where and how to park and ride.
“The riding rules appear in the app that riders see at the start of every trip, plus there’s voice guidance to remind people of some of the key points, and even stickers on the e-scooters with the main dos and don’ts. We also have Safety Ambassadors on the ground in Newcastle reinforcing the riding rules and passing on safety guidelines.”
“In the early days of a trial it is important to see how the e-scooters are being used and to understand what is working and what can be improved. We are working closely with Newcastle City Council and have already quickly adapted the service and will be making further improvements to ensure that e-scooters can integrate into the city in the best, and safest, possible way.
“An example of this is that we have already put in place a citywide curfew that will immobilise all of our e-scooters between 11pm and 5am throughout the lockdown. All of our e-scooters are ‘connected’ and we can turn them off remotely so this is straightforward to implement. We are also continually evaluating our slow zones and no-go zones and we will adapt these over time based on feedback from riders and the wider community.”