A South Gloucestershire man is too scared to ride an electric scooter after being knocked down in a “hit and run” and facing daily abuse.
Tom*, 43, is calling on some motorists to be kinder to riders in Bristol, where Voi e-scooters can be legally rented and used on public roads as part of a West of England Combined Authority trial which started last October.
He says his experience since signing up to a long-term rental in March has been “awful”, claiming he has been shouted and sworn at by drivers more than once a day.
The final straw came last Friday (April 30), when he says a driver bumped the back of his knees as he rode along Filton Avenue, near SGS College, causing him to flip over. Police are investigating.
Tom said: “It was 5.20am and I was on my way to work, and a car went into the back of me. I was not bothering anyone, just keeping to the left hand side on the road, literally riding on the yellow lines.
“The car behind me had been revving its engine up, and all of a sudden it went into the back of me. I flipped off the scooter in the middle of the road.
“It looked like a guy in his mid-30s was driving. He sped off and left me in the middle of the road, shaking. It was a red car but I don’t know the make or model. I didn’t get the reg because I was in shock.”
Tom was only left with a few grazes and a bruised knee, but the psychological impact has been far more telling. He is now too fearful to ride the scooter he has rented.
He says two days before being knocked down he had been targeted by drivers while he was travelling home from work, again on Filton Avenue.
He said: “I was trying to cross at the traffic lights near Abbey Wood Shopping Park at about 2.05pm. I wasn’t riding the scooter as I crossed the road, I was walking with it.
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“There was a guy who was revving his car engine up, and in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘Why are you doing that?’
“As I got across the road and the lights turned green, the guy drove off and shouted out, telling me to eff off.
“A few minutes later, near Gloucester Road, a guy in a car was shouting at me, trying to call me over and tell me off. He was pretending to be a police officer, and telling me I wasn’t allowed to ride an e-scooter in a cycle lane.
“The Voi guidance is clear that you can ride them on cycle paths. I told him this, and I asked him to show me his police ID, which he refused to do. It was obvious he was pretending.”
Both of these incidents happened within a few minutes, making Tom question where “all of this anger” was coming from.
He added: “I abide by the rules, I keep the scooters on the roads. I wear a helmet and hi-vis jacket. But from the first day I’ve used the scooter, the amount of verbal abuse I’ve had from drivers has been horrendous.
“It probably happens more than once a day. People say things like ‘you shouldn’t be f*****g on our roads with them’ or they call me an ‘a******e’ or ‘w****r’.”
“I get very very rude comments, just for using them to get to and from work. When I was cycling to work I never had this problem.”
Tom acknowledged there have been recent concerns over people riding the scooters unsafely, including complaints of pillion riding, but he is worried that safe riders like himself are being treated as if they are a menace.
“Sometimes I see two people on one scooter, or I’ll see people trying to do wheelies and skids, which they shouldn’t be doing, but riders like myself are doing the right thing and we’re receiving verbal abuse. I really don’t get it.
“I want to put some positivity out there and say to drivers that this needs to stop.”
Tom has reported the “hit and run” to police. An Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesman confirmed the force is investigating the collision involving an unidentified red car on Filton Avenue, at Blenheim Drive.
“Following the incident the driver of the car left the scene without stopping to provide their details,” said the force spokesman.
“The victim suffered a leg injury which did not require hospital treatment.”
Bristol Live asked Voi if it was aware of concerns from customers over the way they are being treated on the roads.
A Voi spokeswoman said: “There is a clear demand for our service across all the cities where we are present. In Bristol, over 515,000 rides have been taken since the trial launched. Voi offers a green, safe and affordable mode of transport and the vast majority of our users have a positive experience when riding a Voi scooter.”
Anyone with information about the “hit and run” should contact us via our website or by calling 101, quoting reference AOR-Q7EMA.
Have you experienced abuse while riding e-scooters in Bristol? We’re keen to speak to you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Not his real name.