An 11pm curfew on Newcastle’s controversial e-scooters has immediately cut incidents of them being used illegally or recklessly, transport bosses say.
It was announced on Thursday afternoon that the electric scooters would be shut off between 11pm and 5am, following a series of complaints this week about them being misused.
The move came after five men were charged with driving them while over the legal alcohol limit and another with failing to provide a specimen following arrests in the early hours of Thursday morning.
And after just one day with the overnight hire ban in force, scooter operator Neuron says there was a “significant drop in the number of reported incidents”.
Other safety fears around the scooters have included complaints of people illegally riding on pavements or two riders to a scooter, 4am ‘racing’ down Sandyford Road, and ‘zig-zagging’ across streets.
George Symes, UK expansion manager at Neuron, said: “We’re really encouraged by the overall reaction since launching in Newcastle, especially with the really strong uptake of the e-scooters from NHS and other key workers, hundreds of whom have signed up for free passes to help them get to work in a way that’s socially distanced.
“In the first weeks of any new trial it’s key to evaluate how e-scooters are being used then quickly adapt to iron out any problems and make the service better. We are working closely with Newcastle City Council to address some of the initial feedback we’ve received from important groups in the city.
“Since introducing the 11pm – 5am curfew we’ve already seen a significant drop in the number of reported incidents and we’ll keep adapting the service further to make sure e-scooters are integrated into Newcastle in the best, and safest, possible way.”
Northumbria Police has also issued a warning about unsafe use of the scooters after Thursday’s arrests.
Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford said: “It is important that riders act responsibly, abide by the law and ultimately don’t put themselves or others in danger.
“Unfortunately, there have been instances where it has been necessary for officers to intervene and take action.
“We would ask all users to follow the rules and laws in place, which are there for the safety of everyone, and that they fully understand the potential consequences of not doing so.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that under the current Government Covid-19 restrictions people should only be making essential journeys.”
An initial 250 of the scooters were launched for hire in Newcastle last week as part of a year-long trial scheme.
They are legal on roads, bus lanes, cycle lanes, and pavements that are designated cycleways where the speed limit is 30mph or less within the Neuron ride zone – which covers the city centre, Sandyford, Shieldfield, Jesmond, and Gosforth.
Anyone wanting to hire a scooter must be 18 and hold a provisional or full driving licence.