A charity which represents blind and visually impaired people has raised ‘serious safety concerns’ over the rental e-scooter scheme in Redditch.
Redditch Borough Council, in collaboration with operator Bird, is one of the many towns and cities across the country running a DfT-approved e-scooter trial.
According to the Birmingham Mail, the 12-month trial got underway in October 2020 with an initial 100 e-scooters available to rent.
Following a visit to the town 30 June, the National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) has raised concerns over the ‘appalling safety condition’ of the e-scooters available to hire.
It claims to have seen 53 e-scooters – only 12 of which (23%) had working bells. It also reports faults including broken brake handles, defective tyres and broken reflectors.
Additionally, the charity says it found e-scooters obstructing pavements, creating trip hazards.
The NFBUK says the scheme, which operates in the constituency of transport minister Rachel Maclean, is ‘not safe and needs to be shut down’.
Sarah Gayton, the NFBUK’s street access campaigns coordinator, said: “Transforming our cities into cleaner, greener and healthier places by reducing the dominance of the motor vehicle will not be achieved by replacing them with e-scooters.
“They are turning our city and town centres into urban playgrounds, where riders take over the pavements, public spaces and pedestrian crossings.
“What is worrying is that this has happened in the constituency of the transport minister who is responsible for the rollout of the e-scooter trial in the UK.”
Bird says it is looking into the issues identified and that the organisation holds itself to ‘high safety standards’.
A spokesperson for Bird said: “We are looking into the issues identified, alongside working with the police to address the vandalism specific to this eco-friendly transportation system. Our vehicles are inspected daily in the field and when they come in to charge.
“Overall, we have been really pleased with how our trial in Redditch has been going. Ahead of the launch, we consulted a number of community groups including the Blind Association in Redditch to ensure our scooters were suitable for people who are visually impaired.
“Following the consultation, we added more reflective materials to increase visibility on our scooters. We hold ourselves to high safety standards but take community feedback seriously and will look to engage further with members of the Blind Association to action their feedback.”