New e-scooter safety champions are being deployed across Newcastle to deter riders from using the controversial electric vehicles dangerously.
Scooter operator Neuron has launched a new ‘ScootSafe’ campaign this week in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), after concerns over the orange two-wheelers being ridden unsafely during the early weeks of a 12-month trial in the city.
Some users have already been banned from the roads after being caught riding the scooters while over the legal alcohol limit, while other complaints have included people riding on pavements or two people to a scooter.
Under the new campaign, introduced to coincide with lockdown restrictions being eased this week, Neuron says that safety ambassadors will be out every day promoting safe practice and helping first-time riders – stationed across the e-scooter ride zone covering the city centre, Sandyford, Shieldfield, Jesmond, and Gosforth.
After a string of complaints following the scooters’ launch in Newcastle in February, an overnight curfew was imposed to stop them being hired between 11pm and 5am.
Neuron, which has now also launched in Sunderland, said last week that it had introduced a new reaction test on its app in order to discourage people from using them under the influence of alcohol and that it would consider imposing parking fines in the future.
George Symes, expansion manager at Neuron Mobility, said: “Neuron’s e-scooters are already providing a safe, socially-distanced and environmentally-friendly transport option for those making essential journeys in Newcastle. However, it is important that all new riders are aware of the safety rules.
“Things have settled down considerably in Newcastle and we have a very low rate of e-scooter incidents, but we want to take this opportunity to inform new riders of the rules and our safety guidelines ”
The scooters can only be used by people aged 18 and above who hold a full or provisional driving licence and they can only be ridden on roads, bus lanes, cycle lanes where the speed limit is 30mph or less, plus pavements that are designated cycleways.
Neuron is also urging people to wear the helmets that come attached to the scooter, remove earphones while riding, not to ride under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and to only ride one person to a scooter.
Breaching those rules could lead to people being banned from hiring the scooters and, in the most serious cases, police prosecution and points on their licence.
More than 40 people have already been given suspensions from the service and, at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last week, six people were banned from the roads after being caught riding the e-scooters in Jesmond – five who were found to be over the legal alcohol limit and another who refused to provide a breath specimen.
RoSPA’s Nathan Davies said: “We are delighted to launch the ‘ScootSafe’ campaign in Newcastle in partnership with Neuron so we can educate new riders on the safest way to ride.”
“As riders across Newcastle begin to take their first rides, it is important that they are educated on the rules of the road, including how to ride safely and responsibly.
“All Neuron e-scooters come with an app-controlled helmet and we urge riders to use these at all times.
“Furthermore, riding dangerously, or while under the influence of alcohol is illegal and it is the responsibility of every rider to adhere to these rules.”