Riding an e-scooter on the pavement or leaving one parked in the wrong place could now see users hit in the pocket.
Zwings, the company running the electric scooter rental scheme in Newcastle, has introduced a range of fines for bad behaviour – to encourage ‘responsible scooting’.
The scheme, which allows riders to hire e-scooters for short journeys around the town centre, Silverdale and Keele University, was launched as a 12-month trial in partnership with Staffordshire County Council last September.
But there have been growing concerns over people misusing e-scooters, potentially endangering themselves and others, in North Staffordshire and across the country.
Last month two men were hit with court fines and driving bans after they were caught using Zwings e-scooters in Newcastle at night and while over the drink-drive alcohol limit.
Zwings has now updated its terms and conditions with new fines to discourage bad behaviour such as pavement riding, which it considers ‘very dangerous’.
But the company insists that it has not done this in response to any particular problems in Newcastle, where it says rider behaviour has generally been ‘very positive’.
Zwings has sent all its registered users in Newcastle an email listing the fines it will now impose on users for various infractions. Users could also receive formal warnings, or a ban from the service in the most serious cases.
But these terms and conditions only apply to Zwings users, and not to riders who misbehave on their own e-scooters in Newcastle.
The email from Zwings states: “Your safety is our top priority which is why we have decided to update our current riding policy to encourage responsible scooting and parking.
“Please ensure you read the updated terms and conditions policy. Please note, all revenue generated from fines is being reinvested back into your local community to support further rider education and road safety initiatives.”
Here is a list of the fines Zwings users could now face:
- Parking outside of a designated bay – £15 fine.
- Leaving an e-scooter outside of the operational area – a £15 parking fine plus a £10 recovery fee.
- Failing to end a ride and then not informing Zwings that the vehicle is left unlocked via phone, email or ticket – a £10 fine.
- Pavement riding and double riding (two people on a scooter) – £40 fine and a formal warning, subject to escalation. Zwings could also issue an immediate ban for the most serious offences.
- Vandalism to e-scooter – user will be charged the cost of repair with an additional fine of up to £75.
Zwings also says that a range of serious offences will result in a ‘formal report’ to the police, and potentially the suspension of the rider’s account. These offences include causing accidents, vandalism, intoxicated riding or enabling unlicensed riding by a minor.
Joe Lewin, Zwings CEO, said: “The safety of pedestrians, riders and other road users is Zwings’ first priority. We strive to make mobility safer and more sustainable for short urban trips in Newcastle, as part of our community-first e-scooter trial in Staffordshire, through a scheme that the entire community can engage with positively.
“Part of this process means ensuring the experience of pedestrians and other road users is not diminished by the presence of e-scooters. We continuously engage in close consultation with members of the community and representatives of vulnerable groups and have taken on board their feedback regarding the importance of minimising misuse and irresponsible riding.
“Following this, as is the case in other e-scooter trials across the UK, Zwings is now introducing a fine system to penalise account holders for misuse, including pavement riding, double riding (two people on a scooter), improper parking, and unlocking the scooter on behalf of an illegible user. Any revenue collected since from fines will be reinvested into rider education.”
Mr Lewin said the company had also introduced a ‘fleet marshalls’ programme at all its locations, including Newcastle. The marshalls are responsible for ‘continually educating the community on how to ride safely and responsibly’ as well as looking out for misuse of the scooters.
The county council launched the ‘micromobility’ trial in Newcastle, along with a similar scheme in Stafford, as part of a government-backed programme aimed at reducing the congestion and emissions resulting from short car journeys.
Around 150 scooters are available for hire across the two towns, with Ginger, another e-scooter firm, running the trial in Stafford.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport David Williams said: “The electric scooter trials in Newcastle and Stafford have been successfully implemented and monitored as part of a wider Department for Transport-funded pilot scheme to trial and promote different sustainable transport methods and improve air quality.
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“We cannot stress enough the need to follow safety and legal guidance for the use of the trial e-scooters and would again remind people to follow the rules set out by the providers.
“They must be used like any other motorised vehicle and must not be ridden on pavements. Anyone found to be using private electric scooters, within or outside the trial area, or using e-scooters improperly face fines and points on their licence. The scooter providers will also terminate membership.
“These are local trials and upon completion the county council and our trial partners will feedback all information including any challenges we have faced to the Department for Transport.”