BATH: E-scooter trial extended and expanded
Bath’s e-scooter trial is set to be rolled out across the city.
Councillor Matt McCabe, a cabinet assistant for transport, said an extension until March will give Bath and North East Somerset Council robust evidence to show if the trips are replacing car journeys and not just those made on foot or by bike.
The trial led by the West of England Combined Authority has been running across the region for the last 12 months. Operator Voi said of 2.5million journeys in the past year, an estimated 900,000 had ‘replaced short car journeys’, and that had saved an estimated 480 tonnes of CO2.
Cllr McCabe said: “So far the focus [in Bath] has been on the city centre. That’s concentrated a lot of the problems in the central area.
“For long-term hirers, the evidence is they are replacing car journeys. For the hop on, hop off users, there’s a question over whether they are replacing car journeys.
“The request is for a city-wide trial. It may take some time to set that up.
“The other question is whether government is going to legalise e-scooters. It looks like they probably are.”
Until new legislation comes in, hiring an e-scooter from Voi is the only way to ride one legally in the West of England region.
The vehicles are intended to help people get around but have prompted concerns from disability campaigners.
Speaking in August, Clive Wood from the charity Guide Dogs said e-scooters left on pavements create an unnecessary trip hazard, particularly for those with visual impairments. He welcomed calls in Bristol to create designated parking bays.
Cllr McCabe said: “We will be feeding back our findings. They are being left over pavements, ridden on pavements, there’s dual riding.
“The message to people is to keep reporting incidents so we have robust evidence. These things can be a nuisance. We need to make sure the Department for Transport take that seriously and mitigate for that.”
The Voi app tells users they should never ride on the pavements, roads where the speed limit is more than 30mph, or while under the influence of drink or drugs. Its e-scooters should never be parked blocking cars, access ramps or public footpaths, the app says.
In October a Bristol man was disqualified from driving and ordered to pay a fine and costs after he was found to be over the legal alcohol limit while riding a Voi e-scooter.
While Voi’s are the most visible, most issues with e-scooters relate to those outside the trial. A Freedom of Information request published by Avon and Somerset Police showed that of 850 incident logs that mentioned e-scooters between December 2020 and June this year, 87 were related to the Voi trial.
Last month police in Bristol seized eight privately owned e-scooters and reported the owners for driving offences.
Giving his personal view, Cllr McCabe was sceptical about the Voi trial and said the new legislation should treat e-scooters like motorbikes – meaning users would need a licence and insurance, would not be allowed to ride on pavements and would have to park the vehicles in designated spaces.
He said many Bath residents would not want the new laws to treat e-scooters the same as bikes.
Voi UK general manager Jack Samler said on Friday: “The West of England has shown incredible demand for sustainable transport options. As we announce the extension today, ridership has reached 2.5million and is one of Europe’s largest and most successful areas of e-scooter operations.
“We are delighted to have been given more time to build on our success so far. We will continue to listen to users, the local community, and key stakeholders – such as disability and visually-impaired groups – to ensure micromobility can work for everyone.
“This trial extension will be invaluable, and can only help to strengthen an already truly collaborative partnership.
“We look forward to continuing our mission in Bath, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire to transform our cities for the better.”
Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter
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