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Newcastle City Council Start E-Scooter Trial

23 February 2021

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Newcastle City Council has started its e-scooter trial, working with e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility. There are over 250 scooters available to hire from locations across the city.

Neuron is currently offering free passes to NHS and Emergency Services staff during the lockdown, which can be redeemed through the Neuron app. For the first three months of the trial there will also be free rides for commuters between 5-9am daily.

The e-scooters are fitted with GPS and use Geofencing technology to control where they are ridden and parked, along with how fast they can travel in specific areas. There are designated slow zones, no-ride zones and no-parking zones. Each scooter is also fitted with a unique license plate.

Neuron has a dedicated safety team working as part of the trial, who will be using hospital grade disinfectant to keep e-scooters and helmets clean and germ free. The team will be working to help new users sign up to the app, advise users on how to use the e-scooters safely, along with moving the e-scooters to where they are needed most.

For more information on how to rent an e-scooter in Newcastle upon Tyne visit the Neuron website.

E-Scooter Sharing Scheme Concerns

Whilst there are environmental and social distancing benefits of e-scooters, there are many other concerns around the safety and logistics around e-scooter sharing schemes.

Local authorities will need to ensure that rental companies abide by rules that prevent e-scooters being abandoned on street corners when people have completed their journey.

Another fear is that, as the public generally isn’t aware of the legislation surrounding where e-scooters are permitted, will ride them on the pavement, posing a potential risk to pedestrians.

Many people are worried that e-scooters pose a risk to vulnerable pedestrians, as deaf/blind people will not be able to see/hear them coming. They may also become trip hazards and collide into pedestrians/other road users if the user is travelling at high speed.

There is also the general consensus that members of the public, who aren’t aware of the trial scheme, will think that it is ok for them to purchase their own e-scooter to use public roads. This is illegal at present.

What is the law on e-scooters?

At present it is legal to purchase an e-scooter, but it is only permitted to ride on private land with the landowners’ permission.

E-scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs), and are therefore subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles. This includes the need for MOT, tax, licensing and construction standards. As e-scooters aren’t fitted with number plates, signalling ability and rear red lights, they are not allowed to be used legally on the roads.

If you are found to be using a hired e-scooter outside of the trial area, or are using a privately owned e-scooter on public roads, you could be fined. This could be a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on your driving licence – if you have one.

E-scooter health and safety issues

There is a lot of concern surrounding the health and safety of e-scooter users and surrounding pedestrians and motorists. This is because:

  • It is not the law that riders need to wear helmets, therefore many go without, risking severe head injuries.
  • Cities are not built to accommodate an influx of e-scooter users.
  • Roads are not designed to include lanes for e-scooters.
  • E-scooters can read speeds of up to 20mph, meaning that if the rider crashes the impact can lead to sever injuries due to their lack of personal protection.

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