Two of London’s rental e-scooter providers have highlighted the work they carry out to maintain the safety of their fleets, following criticism from a charity which represents blind and visually impaired people.
The National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) is campaigning vigorously against the legalisation of e-scooters, saying they create unsafe environments for the most vulnerable road users.
NFBUK claims to have found dangerous tyre defects on rental e-scooters in London, home to the UK’s largest trial of rental e-scooters. The 12-month trial, which got underway in June 2021, is being managed by TfL and London Councils – and operated by Dott, Lime and TIER.
NFBUK reported ‘dangerous, under inflated tyres’ on a number of Lime e-scooters, and ‘dangerous splits in the sidewalls’ of tyres on TIER operated vehicles.
The charity says out of a total of 91 tyres it inspected, 22 ‘appeared not to be fit for purpose due to splits and worn away tread’.
As a result, NFBUK is repeating its call for rental e-scooter trials to be halted.
Sarah Gayton, shared space coordinator, NFBUK, said: “These findings clearly indicate the business model for dockless e-scooters is fundamentally flawed. Expecting the public to check the safety of the scooters before they ride them is simply not safe at all.
“People are just jumping on and not checking them. If people were to check them, it is difficult to see if they are in a fit state to ride, especially when it is dark or raining.
“You are your wheels when riding an e-scooter and if they are not fit for purpose then they are simply not safe, putting the rider and other road users at risk.”
Responding to the criticism, TIER says it has a ‘robust process’ in place to maintain the quality of its fleet.
The operator adds it is ‘consistently scrutinising the safety of its operations’, with the help of independent experts in road safety, Covid risk, accessibility and visual impairment.
Fred Jones, vice president for TIER across Northern Europe, said: “TIER takes all issues regarding the safety and durability of its vehicles very seriously and we welcome Sarah’s vigilance and for bringing this to our attention.
“The vehicles in question have been identified by our rangers and removed from the streets.
“We have a robust process in place to maintain the quality of our fleet, including a team of street rangers with the specific role of regularly assessing the state of our e-scooters and deactivating those that are not fit for purpose, and a team working within our warehouse to repair any of those that are damaged.
“Alongside this rigorous assessment process, TIER is consistently scrutinising the safety of its operations through our UK Safety Board which comprises senior independent experts in road safety, Covid risk, accessibility and visual impairment.
“Our incident rate in the UK has been very low so far, and we strive to continue to keep it this way and operate to the highest of safety standards.”
Meanwhile Lime everyone of its e-scooters undergoes daily maintenance checks.
A spokesperson for Lime said: “Safety is at the heart of the service Lime offers its customers. Lime has safely delivered over 100,000 rides in London since the start of the e-scooter trial, using our industry leading technology to protect riders at every stage of their journey.
“Every Lime e-scooter undergoes daily maintenance checks – including checking tyre pressure and condition – from trained Lime mechanics and our on-street patrol teams.
“Users are also encouraged to report any maintenance issue through the Lime app, and any vehicle reported is immediately made unavailable to members of the public.”