E-scooters are legally allowed on London‘s roads for the first time today after the capital launched a rental trial, as one of the manufacturers insisted they were ‘as safe as possible’ amid safety concerns.
A senior Met officer has described the gadgets as ‘absolute death traps’ and they have been linked to a series of accidents, including the death of YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge.
But today Alan Clarke, director of policy at manufacturer Lime, insisted the contraptions are ‘very stable’ and have ‘the best possible safety features’ such as dual brakes and a reduced top speed of 12.5mph.
The scheme is initially restricted to a handful of areas including Ealing, Canary Wharf, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Richmond upon Thames.
The trial received a late blow when the City of London announced it was withdrawing at the last minute, although officials insisted it was for administrative reasons rather than over safety concerns.
Similar pilots have already taken place in more than 40 towns and cities, including Birmingham and Manchester.
London’s e-scooter trial began today after similar pilots took place in more than 40 towns and cities, including Birmingham and Manchester
While Transport for London (TfL) has hailed the move as a key part of the city’s sustainable future and post- pandemic recovery, a Metropolitan Police officer thinks differently.
Simon Ovens labeled e-scooters as ‘absolute death traps’, with officers having seized around 800 already this year.
Concerns of reckless maneuvering of the scooters such as driving too fast, driving under the influence and ignoring red lights have been prevalent since the announcement of the initiative.
In 2018, there were four recorded e-scooter collisions in London, which rose to 32 in 2019.
Accident numbers are thought to be under-reported, as riders using them in prohibited areas are unlikely to tell police about collisions.
However, Lime executive Simon Clarke insisted it will be ‘really clear … just how different a rental e-scooter is from a private-owned e-scooter’.
He said: ‘The safety standards are really, really high and that contrasts starkly with private e-scooters, which don’t have to pass any standards at all in order to be put onto the street, because by definition they’re already illegal.
‘I think people are going to really notice that and we certainly expect people to look at the scooters that we’re putting and see how much safer those are.’
He added: ‘There’s a real demand from people to use this form of zero-emission and convenient transport.
‘As we start to build back again coming out of lockdown and bounce back after the pandemic, what we’re already seeing is that people are looking for new ways to travel.’
In July 2019, TV presenter and YouTube influencer Emily Hartridge (pictured above, in November 2018) was killed while riding her e-scooter in Battersea, London
The controversial scooters will allow riders to travel around the capital at up to 12.5mph (pictured are officials at the launch today)
In 2019, TV presenter and YouTuber Emily Hartridge became the first person in Britain to die in an e-scooter accident when she hit a lorry while riding in Battersea, south London.
‘The scooter was being unsuitably driven, too fast and with an underinflated tyre, and this caused the loss of control and her death’, a coroner concluded at the time of her death.
Initially, a total of 200 scooters will be made available to customers aged over 18 who hold a valid driver’s licence.
The scooters will cost £1 to unlock and then 16p per minute.
More than 40 towns and cities, including Birmingham and Manchester, are already taking part in the trial.
London boroughs and areas participating in the scheme from June 7 are Ealing, Canary Wharf, the City of London, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Richmond upon Thames.
Tower Hamlets will be a ‘ride through’ borough while Lambeth and Southwark are seeking to participate in the trial.
Joanna Johnson, wife of Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson, was left in ‘indescribable pain’ after being struck by the hit-and-run rider at 20mph as she walked to her car last July
Privately owned e-scooters have always been prohibited on public UK roads and pavements.
Riders face a £300 fine and points on any current or future driver’s licence for using them illegally.
The Daily Mail has revealed how e-scooters have been involved in hundreds of crimes including drive-by shootings, robberies and assaults.
Scotland Yard recorded more than 200 incidents involving them last year, with 150 seized.
Charity Guide Dogs has called for the sale of private high-speed e-scooters to be banned and expressed fear their use means “more people with sight loss will be forced to change their route or avoid independent travel altogether”.
The price of an e-scooter can start at around £350, with some high-end models nearly £1,000. They are capped at 15.5mph but can be modified to go up to 70mph.