New Safety Risk as London Launches Rental E-scooter Trial

Author:
Susan Vanden
Partner, Road Traffic Accident Technical Manager
Date:
07/06/2021

Trial of rental e-scooters begins in 6 London boroughs, despite concerns over road safety risks.

As of today, many Londoners can legally rent electric e-scooters as part of a trial hire scheme.

Rental e-scooters were legalised for use on roads in England and Wales last August, and have become common sights in many major cities, including Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham.

But this is the first time we’re going to see them rolled out on a mass scale in London, and our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors are concerned this could lead to more accidents taking place.

Since rented e-scooter trials began, there have been several reports of pedestrians being hit by e-scooters and many safety concerns have been raised.

For example, many people renting e-scooters may not have ridden one before, and since they’re much quieter than cars, pedestrians won’t always be aware of them approaching.

The increase in the number of personal injuries inflicted by e-scooters is concerning, so we hope that Transport for London has put enough safety measures in place to protect both riders taking part in the Trial and anyone else using the capital’s roads and pavements.

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What are the Current Rules for E-scooters?

In England and Wales, riders are banned from using e-scooters on pavements and must stick to a maximum speed limit of 15.5 mph. But Transport for London has introduced stricter measures in London during the trial.

This includes:

      • A lowered speed limit of 12.5 mph
      • Lights at the front and rear of the e-scooters
      • Audible warning systems

Riders must also complete an e-learning safety course before being allowed to hire an e-scooter.

Currently, it’s still illegal to ride privately-owned e-scooters in England and Wales, and any riders caught doing so can face a £300 fine and 6 points on their licence.

But sadly, the sight of people breaking this law isn’t an uncommon one.

Rental e-scooters

Are E-scooters Safe?

E-scooters can be safe as long as they’re built well and have key safety features in place. But there are some things to be aware of that could put you at risk on the roads:

        • Because of their small wheels, e-scooters can struggle on uneven roads or roads with potholes
        • The lack of mirrors or indicators means that e-scooter riders can’t signal to other vehicles on the road or see vehicles behind them. Riders also can’t lift a hand off to signal, unlike someone on a bicycle
        • As riders stand upright on the e-scooter, this puts them at risk of being thrown off quickly, with more force than a cyclist. According to the Danish Transport Authority, e-scooter riders are 8 times more at risk of a head injury than a cyclist
        • Some e-scooters don’t include lights, making them much harder to see if travelling about at night. For e-scooters with lights, they tend to be a lot less bright than those on a bicycle
        • E-scooters make far less noise than a car, which can put pedestrians at risk if they don’t hear them coming

Where are the London E-scooter Trials Happening?

The e-scooter rental scheme has launched in:

          • Ealing
          • Canary Wharf
          • The City of London
          • Hammersmith and Fulham
          • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
          • Richmond upon Thames

Each borough will have between 60 and 150 e-scooters available to rent but operators may have the option to increase this capacity if the trial goes well.

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