Kent transport

Kent BANS e-scooters after two-year trial: Advisers reject call to extend pilot scheme

E-scooters in Kent will be removed from the roads after a two-year trial with advisers stepping in before ‘anyone is seriously injured’.

The electric scooter pilot scheme, launched in Canterbury, Kent, in November 2020 for a first year has been extended twice despite fears for public safety.

Kent County Council has now rejected an offer from the Department for Transport to continue the trial until May 2024 – almost two years longer than its current end date of November 30 this year.

From December 1, there will no longer be electric scooters legally driven on the streets of Kent, as they are only allowed on public roads under government-approved trials.

Transport adviser David Brazier was assigned to oversee the trial. “As we neared the end of the trial, I decided to cut it short before anyone got seriously hurt,” he said.

‘Recently an elderly lady was quite seriously injured by someone who was in a pedestrian zone which was not permitted,’ he added in reference to Ms Carter’s accident.

It comes after an 80-year-old grandmother broke her wrist, cracked cheekbone and jaw in July after being hit by an electric scooter traveling along a pavement in Canterbury.

Sarah Carter, a retired university librarian, called for an end to the citywide trial program after her accident. She called electric scooters “deadly” and called the council “irresponsible” for the lack of infrastructure in place.

Sarah Carter, 80, suffered a broken wrist, cheekbone and cracked jaw after being hit by an electric scooter in Canterbury, Kent

Mrs. Carter is a mother of two and grandmother of four.  She was on her way to a local store when the collision happened

Mrs. Carter is a mother of two and grandmother of four. She was on her way to a local store when the collision happened

Bird electric scooters will be banned from Kent roads from December 1 after councilors were forced to intervene before 'anyone is seriously injured'.  (file image)

Bird electric scooters will be banned from Kent roads from December 1 after councilors were forced to intervene before ‘anyone is seriously injured’. (file image)

What are the laws on electric scooters?

Renting an e-scooter is the only way to legally drive the vehicle on certain public roads or other public places at this time.

But the controversial vehicles could be approved for use across the UK after a trial period. Currently, 10 London boroughs are participating in the program with three suppliers to test how the e-scooters work on the capital’s roads.

Driving e-scooters on the sidewalk is prohibited, however, and drivers must be 18 or older and have a full or provisional driver’s license to rent one.

It is also illegal to use private electric scooters or other motorized carriers on public roads.

Relevant laws on the use of electric scooters include:

On public roads, anyone using a private e-scooter or other motorized carrier is likely to commit at least one of many offenses such as driving a motor vehicle without insurance. You could face a fixed £300 fine and six points on your driving license

On sidewalks it is generally prohibited to drive a motor vehicle, and this applies at all times to electric scooters and motorized transporters

Electric scooters and motorized transporters can be used on private land with the permission of the owner or occupier

Electric scooters hired under the TfL scheme will be allowed to ride on public roads and cycle infrastructure in London in participating boroughs.

These boroughs will designate no-go zones where e-scooters cannot be ridden and will stop safely, as well as slow down zones, where the speed of e-scooters will be reduced to 8 mph

Source: TFL

After her accident, she said: “Another elderly person could very well have been even more seriously injured or even killed.”

The grandmother-of-four was taken by ambulance to William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford, where she spent a total of eight hours in hospital, including four hours in A&E to have her injuries assessed and undergo a surgical intervention.

Electric scooters across Southeast County will now begin to disappear from the roads before the pilot period ends.

Cllr Brazier revealed he “tended to favor” the trial proceedings, but stressed that “it was quite evident now that the crashes could have been worse than they were”.

“You can’t legislate against people who will agree to use something in a certain way and then adapt,” he told a cross-party commission meeting.

Meanwhile, Mel Dawkins, a Labor adviser from Canterbury, told MailOnline: ‘E-scooters are a great idea if they are driven safely and the proper infrastructure is also in place.

“Until Canterbury has improved its active travel package for pedestrians and cyclists across the city, it is difficult to run this scheme successfully and safely.

“The e-scooter system was put in place to encourage model switching, a reduction in emissions and congestion; but for this kind of meaningful change, we also need to invest more in public transport.

“Current e-scooter legislation also needs to be updated. Following trials, like Bird’s, it has encouraged more people to buy an electric scooter, even if they are not allowed to ride it legally on the pavement or road. Unfortunately, there have been mixed messages and confusion about this.

He told advisers that e-scooter riders were using routes not authorized by the official rider, operated by Bird.

In 2021, there were 1,280 collisions involving electric scooters across the UK, according to the Department for Transport. These incidents resulted in 1,359 casualties and nine deaths.

It is understood the Canterbury pilot could now be reduced to a single route by November 30 – the corridor between the university and the city centre.

A Kent County Council spokesperson said: ‘Over recent months Bird, working on this trial for Kent County Council, has introduced enhanced safety measures including a reduction in the speed of electric scooters by 15 mph to 12 mph.

The council also said ‘bird watchers’ had been sent to patrol the town to drive on the pavements, while Bird had also changed its driving policy to introduce an immediate ban on offending.

The number of reported fatalities in crashes involving e-scooters soared in the UK in 2021

The number of reported fatalities in crashes involving e-scooters soared in the UK in 2021

“Kent County Council has decided to gradually reduce the number of vehicles taking part in the trial, and the areas in which they operate, before the trial ends in Kent at the end of November,” a doorman added. -word.

Meanwhile, Bird was “clearly very disappointed with this decision.” ‘We have an incredibly low incident rate of 0.0014% on nearly 67,000 journeys since our launch in 2020, and one in five eligible Canterbury cyclists have used our vehicles, opting for sustainable journeys and abandoning journeys at gasoline,’ a spokesperson said. .

“We will continue to provide our eco-friendly and practical vehicles to residents of Canterbury until the end of November.”

Although there were numerous complaints, Cllr Brazier described Bird as “competent and professional individuals” who “took numerous steps to ensure the safety of their contractors and the general public”.

There are 29 other government-approved trials, but when they all end in May 2024, the government is expected to make a decision on whether or not to approve e-scooters for use on public roads in the UK.