Calls to regulate ‘illegal’ e-scooter market

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The e-scooters rental scheme has proved popular in Liverpool

The company behind Liverpool’s rental e-scooters has called for regulation in the face of growing concerns.

Merseyside Police have urged people to consider using the rental scheme instead of buying e-scooters as Christmas presents following an increase in cases where they are being ridden illegally.

Currently it is against the law for privately owned e-scooters to be used on public grounds unless there is express permission from the landowner.

Scooters involved in the recently launched Liverpool City Council scheme are exempt from this as they are treated as motor vehicles and people must be over 18 and have at least a provisional driving licence to use one.

Voi, the company behind Liverpool’s rental e-scooters, believe regulation is the only way to alter attitudes towards the vehicles.

A Voi spokesperson told JMU Journalism: “Regulation will make it easier to promote and manage the new modes in a sustainable way while creating certainty that all operators live up to certain standards, increasing safety and overall trust in e-scooters as a new mode of transport.

“Cities also need to encourage more active forms of transport and rethink the way public space is planned. Protected infrastructure needs to be in place for people to travel safely with micro-mobility vehicles, in line with OECD recommendations.”

The growing popularity of private e-scooter ownership has seen a rise in cases of anti-social behaviour involving the vehicles, resulting in their misuse being classified by police as a threat to public safety.

Reports include e-scooters being ridden pavements, through crowds of pedestrians and even road accidents. Merseyside Police has warned those caught riding the scooters illegally could have them seized and face a hefty fine.

Chief Inspector Tony Jones said: “We understand e-scooters may appeal to many people for various reasons, whether it’s to travel to work, to purchase as a gift for someone or to enjoy as a fun activity, but we must stress the fact that to use them in public is illegal and can present a safety risk to yourself and others.

“I want to make it clear that these scooters are not toys and have the potential to cause serious injury or even worse.”

Chief Inspector Jones was quick to distniguish between private use and the city’s rental scooters. He said: “This is a pioneering initiative by the Council, and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about purchasing an e-scooter for whatever reason, to reconsider and look to utilise this service as an alternative, with no risk of having your scooter seized, or receiving a fine or points on your license.”

The one-year trial scheme, which is a joint initiative between Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the City Council, was introduced in October following success in Europe and has been celebrated as being a socially distanced alternative to typical public transport.

The scheme has proven successful with Voi revealing there have been over 16,600 rides in the city to date. The introduction of a free ride system for NHS and Key Emergency Workers has also received widespread praise.

A spokesperson for Voi said: “We saw Liverpudlians embracing e-scooters as a new, green-way to move around town in a safe and socially-distanced way.

“We currently have over 6,200 unique users in the city of Liverpool and over 45,3000km have been travelled. To put this into perceptive, that is more than the earth circumference!”

 

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