The Government has announced its intention to consult industry experts on how e-scooters can be legalised and safely used on UK roads. RoSPA is relieved to hear this, and would like to see this consultation released as soon as possible because despite the fact e-scooters are currently illegal on UK roads and pavements, they are becoming increasingly popular in our cities, posing huge safety concerns – as shown by Britain’s first e-scooter death last year.
E-scooters look exactly like traditional scooters but they are fitted with rechargeable batteries, making them electrified. They have a general speed range of 9-15mph and users adjust this speed using handlebar controls. They are appealing due to their reduced carbon footprint and the fact they are cheap to ride, making them ideal for the “last mile” commute, and their extreme popularity is likely due to their use in cities; e-scooters make it very easy to get around congested places in a fast and efficient manner (especially when renting them) where the alternative would be getting stuck in traffic in a taxi or on a bus.
In principle, RoSPA has no opposition to the legalisation of e-scooters on UK roads, but would be opposed to them being allowed on footpaths due to the dangers this could create for pedestrians. Safety considerations are critical here; e-scooters have the potential to cause a significant health risk to those who use them – they are small, quiet and quick, giving a high risk of traumatic injury. Therefore, RoSPA would like a range of safety and technical aspects to be agreed on, such as:
- a minimum age for use
- wheel size (bigger wheels are more stable in the event of hitting a pothole)
- where they can be used
- whether helmets and lighting will be mandatory
- how e-scooters will be classified
- vehicle type approval to maximise safety standards.
Overall, RoSPA is happy that legislation is beginning to catch up to the modernisation of our roads, but it is important that this is done in a properly-regulated way with appropriate measures to ensure e-scooter and other road users are safe, as well as sufficient integration into the existing transport infrastructure. With Britain being one of the very few countries currently banning their use, we have the advantage of learning from the mistakes of other countries.
Nick Lloyd, head of road safety
Posted: 2/7/2020 11:53:53 AM