THE END: E-scooter trial ‘chaos’ feared
Bristol opposition councillors are calling for a trial of e-scooters to end next month, amid mounting concerns about their safety.
The Conservative group say there would be “chaos” on the city’s roads if the rental scheme is made permanent and private electric scooters are permitted on roads as well.
Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees has said the local authority is pushing for the Voi e-scooters trial, led by the West of England Combined Authority (Weca), to be extended until the end of March next year because it has been an “overwhelming success”.
He has also said he expects e-scooters to become a “permanent feature” of the city and for private scooters to be legalised.
But Tory councillor Lesley Alexander says “serious problems” with the experiment have emerged since it began in October 2020.
In a motion tabled ahead of a full council meeting tomorrow (September 7), she says: “[Bristol City] Council is conscious of increasing complaints around road and pedestrian safety, an apparent lack of policing or enforcement, silent scooters being ridden on pavements to create new hazards and nuisance as well as clutter where motors are simply discarded in a haphazard fashion.
“In addition, doubts remain over whether e-scooters are as good for the environment as proponents claim or that this kind of ‘active’ travel is really something that should be encouraged.”
Cllr Alexander’s motion, which is unlikely to be debated, calls on Mr Rees not to extend the trial beyond its planned finish at the end of October.
It also asks that all elected members be given an opportunity to vote on whether to make the scheme permanent.
And it calls on the mayor to oppose any moves by government to make it legal for private e-scooters to be used in public spaces such as roads and pavements.
“An entirely unregulated, free-for-all system would be a recipe for chaos on our roads and pavements,” it reads.
The motion cites recent research from dashcam company Nextbase suggesting e-scooters will be involved in up to 200,000 accidents in the UK by the end of this year.
The goal of the regional trial is to reduce car travel and increase active travel, but Weca itself has said Voi e-scooter journeys have actually replaced more walks than car journeys so far.
Voi has a range of information and guidance on its website and app, including a ‘safety toolkit’ for riding e-scooters correctly and helping to keep others safe.
Crime records published by Avon and Somerset Police showed that of 237 incidents involving e-scooters in Bristol, only nine were related to the Voi trial.
The rest involved privately-owned e-scooters, which are still illegal to ride except on private land.
Voi has previously said that only a “small minority” of riders do not comply with its safety guidance, and that it “invests in the education of riders”.
Speaking in April, a spokesperson for the company said: “Voi also works closely with the local police and has ambassadors on the ground to monitor the e-scooter activity, ensuring riders are driving and parking the e-scooters appropriately.
“Voi operates a three-strike policy through which reported incidents of anti-social behaviour and misuse will lead to warnings, fines and even temporary or permanent bans.
“We also encourage people to report any misused scooter through our page and Voi will take the necessary action.”
Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV