There are calls for an ‘urgent review’ of a pilot scheme of e-scooters which is currently running in Liverpool.
E-scooter company Voi launched the Liverpool pilot in conjunction with the city council and city region combined authority last year – which saw coral-coloured scooters hit the Liverpool streets.
The pilot has been deemed a success by many and e-scooters are seen as a way of reducing car journeys and helping fight climate change.
It is understood that the pilot scheme has now been extended until May 2022.
While many have enjoyed the use of the scooters, which are accessed with a smartphone app, there have been issues too, including a number of incidents and injuries.
The ECHO understands that a Trauma Network Group has now been set up involving the city’s hospitals to collate accidents and injuries involving the scooters.
The pilot scheme means that only the Voi scooters are legal to ride on roads only (not on pavements) – and private e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads.
Liverpool Lib Dem leader Cllr Kemp says there needs to be a review on the situation.
He said “We understand that there have been a number of accidents involving the Voi Scooters but after two weeks have been unable to find out the number and extent of the injuries caused.
“We do know that the situation is serious enough for the council to have established a liaison group between the Royal Hospital and our Public Health team to look at the situation.
The Liverpool Echo sends newsletters on a wide range of topics – including our daily news bulletin, now going out three times a day.
There are others on what’s on, politics, court news, Knowsley, Wirral, and arts & culture, as well as both Liverpool FC and Everton FC.
Signing up is free and it only takes a minute for you to get the biggest stories, sent straight to your inbox.
How to sign up for an Echo Email Update
2) Put your email in the box where indicated
3) Tick as many boxes as you like, for each newsletter you want.
4) Press Save changes and that’s it!
“We understand that the Police are also concerned about their use but absolutely lack the resources to ‘police’ either the Voi scooters but also the increasing number of private scooters on are roads which are 100% illegal.”
Cllr Kemp said that other issues highlighted to him and his colleagues include scooters being ridden on pavements and riders leaving them inappropriately and blocking pavements when they have finished with them – making it hard for pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with prams to get past.
He added: “There are now proposals to extend the pilot and we need to fully understand the issues before we can agree to continue this experiment.
“In principle this is a great idea. However, unless we introduce more checks and balances into their use it is an idea that will surely lead to serious injuries and deaths.”
Responding in a joint statement, Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: ““The e-scooter pilot scheme in Liverpool has been popular and successful to date.
“We are working with partners to collate and independently verify data on accidents, but we can say with confidence that the trial has attracted a large number of users and there have been few incidents to date.
“Safety is of vital importance in this trial and we’re working closely with the vehicle operators Voi, partners at Merseyside Police as well as with hospitals and public health leaders to track any issues that might arise and to ensure the e-scooters are being used safely and properly.
“It’s also important to emphasise that private e-scooters are not covered by this scheme and the use of these vehicles remains illegal on all public roads.
“This is a pilot scheme which we continually and closely monitor. We would, of course, not hesitate to take further action should this be needed.”
For its part, Voi has been keen to stress how seriously it takes safety and pointed to a number of new features it has brought in – as well as plans for more.
A spokesperson for Voi said: “Voi e-scooters are being piloted in 18 locations across the country, including Liverpool, as part of a green transport revolution that is taking place in our cities and towns, allowing people to travel in a safe, sustainable and affordable way.
“Voi’s number one priority is always the safety of its riders, pedestrians and other road users.
“We work closely with the local council to ensure our riders know their responsibilities and educate Voi users with in-person ambassadors, safety information on the scooter and in-app messages, and rewarding riders for completing our online e-scooter driving school.”
The company is currently organising and holding safety education events for new and existing riders and is working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to understand the needs of vulnerable people and those with visual impairments or mobility issues.
Voi said it is developing research on e-scooter sound alerts and parking racks aimed at reducing hazards for vulnerable pedestrians.
Other improvements could soon include indicator lights and software that can tell when a scooter is illegally riding on the pavement.
Voi’s spokesperson added: “To keep people safe and ensure riders are being responsible, Voi scooters are fitted with number plates so that they can be easily identified, and we operate a 3-strike policy through which reported incidents of anti-social behaviour or misuse will lead to temporary or permanent bans.
“Furthermore, our ‘ end of ride photo ’ incentivises users to park safely, but if a user leaves the scooter down on the floor or obstruct the pavement in a way that is causing an obstacle to pedestrians, strollers or wheelchairs, he will receive an email containing a warning and an educational message.
“After the first warning, riders who park their vehicles incorrectly will receive a £25 pound fine.”
“More than 2.8 million rides have now been taken in the UK in the last seven months by over 316,500 users. In Liverpool alone, over 825, 600 rides were taken, and over 1.7 million km were travelled with Voi scooters.
“We estimate to have replaced over 295,000 short car trips, reducing over 234 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the city of Liverpool. Almost all of these rides have been completed safely, with the e-scooter parked appropriately at the end of the ride. Our data to date shows that e-scooters are as safe as bikes. ”