Hailed as a greener, more sustainable, more affordable mode of transport that can reduce traffic congestion and provide a ‘socially distanced’ way to travel during the pandemic, electric scooters, or ‘e-scooters’, seem to be the future for short-distance city travelling.
As such, Transport for London (TfL) and London Councils have confirmed that e-scooters will be allowed on London roads as part of a 12 month trial which will launch this Monday 7 June 2021. This will form part of a UK-wide trial as the government considers whether to legalise e-scooters across the UK. This comes following a year-long pilot scheme in Liverpool which began in October 2020, which has received a mixed reception, with one Councillor recently describing them as ‘death traps’.
Freedom of Information findings from ITV’s Tonight programme ‘E-scooters: Britain’s New Road Rage?’ revealed 210 reported injuries and 1,100 complaints. One of the most common complaints was about where the e-scooters were parked. Many of the schemes do not require the e-scooters to be docked, resulting in many users leaving them on pavements and roads, creating an obstruction.
TfL says it will cost between £3.25 and £3.40 for a typical 15-minute ride, it will cost £1 to ‘unlock’ a scooter, followed by a fee of between 15p and 16p per minute. The operators taking part in the scheme said that they will not charge riders while they are stationary at traffic lights to discourage ‘reckless riding’, although some fear that the per-minute charging scheme will cause riders to speed. They will also give riders a free minute at the start of each trip if they are wearing a helmet.
According to a recent article in the Law Society Gazette, the popularity of the e-scooters has led to an increase in personal injury claims.
The use of private e-scooters remains illegal in the UK, however, thousands of privately owned e-scooters are still unlawfully used on roads across the UK. Riders are liable for a £300 fixed penalty fine with six points added to their driving licence if caught.
Megan Owen, solicitor in our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team comments:
The trial of e-scooters in the capital will bring obvious benefits, notably they will play a vital role in improving air quality and congestion in the city. On the face of it, they provide a solution to the downsides of travel; congestion, pollution, affordability, however, it is important that this does not compromise public safety. Time will tell whether this will lead to an increase in personal injury claims.