Forget they’re only legal to use if you hire one of the devices currently being trialled by the Government across the UK. Privately owned scooters are everywhere – procured from retailers who ask no questions about their permitted usage (Don’t expect to hear “will you only be using on private land, Sir?” being asked at a cash till near you). Little wonder you see privately owned e-scooters brazenly hurtling down our streets or through our parks with little fear of confiscation (the police need to do much more).
But since the Government has no appetite for their withdrawal, then it’s time to make those who use them accountable with tough laws on compulsory identification of the rider – which is something I am now petitioning the Government to do.
Without some kind of registration scheme – say a numbered tabard registered to the rider not the e-scooter – we have no idea who might be riding them.
It gifts those who use an e-scooter licence to flout the law with impunity – say, jumping red lights,weaving on and off pavements, snatching handbags or knocking down pedestrians.
Already new figures show that casualties in London have soared by more than 570 percent in just a year.
Meanwhile the number of pedestrians hurt by e-scooters doubled over the same period, from 13 to 26 (though the figures are likely to be higher since illegal usage means e-scooter crashes can go under-reported).
And since these are silent, stealthy devices, it’s no wonder that the Royal National Institute of Blind People has revealed that many blind and partially-sighted people are extremely worried about the impact of e-scooters.
Accidents not only happen because they are driven recklessly.
In my view, e-scooters are inherently unstable – the wheels too small to achieve any kind of balance.
I know. I tried one on private land the other day and even though I did’t push it to more than the speed of a middle aged jogger (guilty of being one) I felt extremely unsteady. Imagine then being overtaken by a lorry or hammered by a gust of wind.
Tha’s before you consider anyone can use an e-scooter on our roads since there’s no proficiency test to decide who is capable of using them. And many don’t have indicators. Frankly, we are teetering towards a blood bath.
Some politicians and pro-scooter lobbyists argue that e-scooters are already legislated. Technically it’s true.
E-scooters are classified as “Personal Light Electric Vehicles”.
That means users are subject to the same laws as drivers and motorcycle riders under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
So, riders can for example get free points for jumping a red or amber traffic light – as a driver in a car.
However, countless offences go unchallenged because of lack of identification.
It could explain why e-scooters are now precipitating a crime wave since they are swift and easy getaway vehicles for muggers and phone snatchers.
In launching this petition (which also applies to cyclists) I’m not looking to draw up battle lines.
If anything what motivates me is to create safe and harmonious space for all road users.
I realise it could be argued that e-scooters could cut congestion, and improve air pollution levels.
But what’s the point if we don’t know who is using them? If you’re identifiable you’re accountable.
Ideally current Government trials should be paused until legislation and infrastructure is in place to ensure safer roads for all users.
In the meantime let’s at least know who these e-scooter riders are.
Since they are a danger to themselves and others every time they climb on board.
Please sign the petition.