Two UK cities have halted e-scooter schemes after misuse. What is York doing to avoid the same problems?

21 Sep 2020 @ 7.31 am
| Transport

Two cities that were early adopters of e-scooter rental schemes have called a halt after widespread misuse.

But York transport leaders say they have learned lessons from previous pilots – and the scheme about to launch here has safety built in.

The UK’s first ever e-scooter pilot scheme was launched in Middlesbrough in July.

But a second rental scheme in neighbouring Hartlepool was abandoned amid widespread misuse of the first 50 hire vehicles in Middlesbrough, according to a report in the Independent.

Complaints included two teenagers taking them for a spin down the 70mph A19 and underage users riding through the town’s three shopping malls.

Meanwhile, a trial of e-scooter rentals in Coventry city centre was halted less than a week after it begun.

It was meant to run for a year, but was stopped after they were ridden on pavements and pedestrianised areas, according to Coventry Live. The council hopes to resume the scheme.

Avoiding the pitfalls

Coming to York – Tier electric scooters

We reported earlier this month that a fleet of 100 electric scooters will be installed at the University of York within weeks.

They will cost £1 to unlock and 15p per minute to ride, travel at up to 12mph, and are seen as another green transport option for the city.

And City of York Council transport lead Cllr Andy D’Agorne is confident that York’s scheme will not be beset by the same problems.

He said the council had chose the operator Tier from 20 interested parties “very much taking into account the safeguards that Tier have in place, including ‘geofencing’ that restricts the areas where the scooters can be used and prevents the user from ending the hire anywhere outside the approved hub locations”.

The other cities used different operators (Ginger in Middlesbrough and Voi in Coventry).

The geofencing means riders are limited to 3mph in York’s footstreets (effectively you can only walk with it). It also stops them from leaving the city – avoiding the possibility of a scoot down the A19.

Other safety features of the York scheme include a bell, lights, hands free phone holder (allowing both hands to stay on the handlebars) and a fold-out helmet.

GPS tracked

You get a helmet when you hire one

City of York Council says they are undertaking a staged roll-out to minimise the type of issues encountered in Teesside, which experienced higher demand than was expected.

It has been talking with other authorities, “and we’re learning from the challenges they have had,” a spokesman said.

The rules mean the e-scooters can only be used on roads or cycle paths, like bikes, but riders have to have a provisional licence, they will be GPS tracked and you provide your details to the operator.

Cllr D’Agorne said: “So if any abuse is reported it will be quite easy for the company to pin down the offending user.

“Hire is relatively expensive, so I imagine it is more likely to be young professionals or wealthy students using them. What could be more of concern would be privately-owned scooters out there already, which are technically illegal at present.”

He added: “Given the clear Government intention to legalise these next year, this initiative allows York to work with one of the best operators on a pilot that will bring best practice to our city, rather than risking a ‘free for all’ situation if the Government makes them legal in a year’s time.”