Race to legalise e-scooters ‘not safe or sensible’

13.07 | 16 June 2020 | | 4 comments

A charity which represents blind and visually impaired people has written to the DfT urging it to rethink plans to legalise electric scooters, warning they contribute to a ‘dangerous, frightening, intimidating and hostile’ urban environment.

The National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) says the DfT has underestimated the ‘overwhelming negative impact’ of e-scooters – both in terms of rider safety and the impact on blind, disabled and elderly road users.

In the letter, the NFBUK suggests local authorities are not fully aware of the ‘significant dangers’ of e-scooters and the ‘headaches’ they create for public bodies trying to regulate their use. 

It also notes the NHS should not have to deal with a potential new wave of serious and minor injuries.

The NFBUK is calling on the DfT to halt UK trials and instead focus efforts on ensuring ‘safe and accessible urban environments’ for all – particularly at a time when people need to socially distance.

Andrew Hodgson, president of NFBUK, said: “After learning about the accidents e-scooters have caused, it is very clear to me they are not fit for purpose. 

“Riders appear to fall from them very easily, causing serious head injuries along with many broken bones. 

“It is also clear from practical experience, dockless e-scooters simply do not work as the machines can end up anywhere in the city. 

“This causes totally random potential barriers to access across city pavement and public space for disabled and elderly people and mothers with buggies.  

“At a time of social distancing when urgency has been placed by the Government on active travel, it is critical that all spare public space on the highway is protected for walking and cycling. 

“E-scooters will only take people away from active travel and those embracing walking and cycling will be faced with danger and chaos if e-scooters are legalised in the UK.”

Under current UK law, it is illegal to use a powered transporter – such as an electric scooter – on a public road or other prohibited space, including pavements and cycle lanes.

However, the Government has been contemplating change as part of its push towards greener travel – and in March, announced a consultation on their legalisation would take place.

In May, secretary Grant Shapps announced fast tracked trials of electric scooters would start in June, as part of the Government’s transition out of lockdown restrictions.



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    I am disabled and use crutches. I dread these vehicles coming into use. It is bad enough now with cyclists riding on pavements with total disregard for the fact its ilegal and with total disregard for pedestrians. They do so even in quiet side streets. During lockdown when the main roads were empty or nearly empty of cars there was an actually an INCREASE in pavement cyclists when I went out for a walk. As usual they were verbally abusive to me when I asked why they were cycling on the pavement. I have also been threatened with physical attack by cyclists. I am now afraid to go out. Now it will be even worse with e-scooters likewise ignoring the law and endangering pedestrians. This issue is NOT about a comparison between the dangers of cars, cyclists, e-scooter; a factor that is not taken into consideration is the trauma suffered by numerous near misses and repeated verbal abuse by pavement cyclists – and now doubtless by e-scooter riders. Give us back our pavements.

    C. Y, Liverpool
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Micro-mobility may well have benefits but it’s a broad term. The ITF report included bicycles, e-scooters, and a whole raft of other “vehicles” in its definition. But it is important to look at each one carefully. They are not all the same in terms of safety, health benefits, sustainability or transport value.
    PACTS also has significant concerns about e-scooters (safety, health, sustainability etc) and the proposed trials. We back this will evidence. It’s certainly not the biggest road safety issue for us and it may be “the future”. But we urge people look carefully at the facts – not the fun and marketing hype. http://www.pacts.org.uk/2020/06/e-scooters-cool-but-where-are-the-benefits/

    David Davies
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    The micro-mobility revolution will bring people immense freedom to move around as they please and will help less able people to be more mobile while bring some joy to people’s lives. It will also reduce the number of cars on our roads and will even make some people consider whether they even need a car and so free up congested city streets.

    Cars are the real danger to pedestrians, not micro-mobility devices. Experienced riders can easily learn to navigate bumpy roads and paths on small-wheeled e-scooters just as they already do on small-wheeled folding bicycles or on skateboards and roller skates.

    The ONLY problem that exists is irresponsible riders, just as with irresponsible car drivers. Its just insane to deny the benefits of micro-mobility because of fear that there may be some irresponsible users.

    Simply put in place appropriate requirements such as appropriate training before allowing anyone to hire a scooter. Its only when we have large numbers of users riding these devices that infrastructure spending will follow.

    So, get these devices legalised and then work on addressing problems in an appropriate manner. You’ll never get things perfect from the start and if you don’t start, then progress is never made. Just get on with it and don’t listen to the fear-mongering crowd that have no evidence on which to base their baseless assumptions.

    Happier people live longer, healthier lives and fewer cars means safer, less congested roads and cleaner air, which also saves lives. We already have studies that show e-scooters are as safe as bicycles and people tried to keep those from being legalised back in the day. Embrace change and we will all be better for it.

    NB, Edinburgh
    Agree (6) | Disagree (17)

    I’ve commented on this often. Tiny wheels can’t cope with the humps and bumps on paths let alone on the roads. We constantly hear that the machines have been (easily) de-restricted therfore capable of reaching far higher speeds than the rider can deal with safely. A toy by any means? Not to be encouraged on our pedestrian path ways. The so called monkey bikes were band for similar (anyone can ride them) reasons! Please think this through carefully.

    Tony Taylor, Taunton
    Agree (15) | Disagree (5)

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