E-scooter trials are underway in dozens of cities up and down the country, sales are booming… and a lot of people are worried. According to a recent survey conducted by personal injury lawyers The Compensation Experts, almost half of Brits (47%) don’t think that e-scooters are safe.
Whatever else it may be, the Daily Mail is a pretty good barometer of how a good chunk of society perceives certain things and e-scooters seem to have displaced bicycles as the newspaper’s least favourite form of transportation.
They’re new, they’re different; they’re affordable and environmentally-friendly – the distaste is not a big surprise.
The Mail’s position also reflects a certain nervousness about e-scooters that is fuelling – and also fuelled by – quite a lot of anecdotal human interest news stories about dangerous misbehaviour by e-scooter riders.
> Police and Crime Commissioner says e-scooter trials should be stopped because ‘riders are becoming a menace' – but local operator says there have been no serious incidents
The Compensation Experts’ survey of 1,000 people seems to focus on these attitudes and concerns. Other headline findings were that 64% of respondents think you should have to take a test before you can ride an e-scooter and that 38% are worried that e-scooters will cause an increase in crime.
The first of those is easy to address because you pretty much do have to take a test at the minute. It is currently illegal to ride an e-scooter in a public place unless it is part of one of the government trials and these require users to have a driving licence (or at least a provisional one).
Concern about a particular form of transport causing an increase in crime is however a little harder to counter without the respondents showing us their workings-out so that we can see how they arrived at that conclusion.
What else? 74% of respondents think e-scooters should stay off pedestrian paths – which seems fair enough being as it’s illegal to use them there – while over half (55%) added that they would not feel safe walking down the high street with e-scooters.
70% of people also think there should be a speed limit for e-scooters.
Again, this doesn’t seem too great an issue.
The e-scooters available for hire in trials are physically restricted to 15.5mph in most places and to 12.5mph in London. Geo-fencing also allows for harsher restrictions in certain areas, like the 3mph limit mooted for Bournemouth prom.
The speed limit for privately-owned e-scooters is of course effectively 0mph because – as mentioned above – they are currently illegal.
This does however lead into a legitimate concern harboured by many. The survey found that 70% of Brits think e-scooters should be regulated by the government.
While ‘illegal to use in a public place’ does technically count as regulation, it is unarguable that there is widespread confusion resulting from the fact that e-scooters are nevertheless available to buy from major retailers.
When launching its first own-brand e-scooter earlier this year, Halfords called for public use of privately-owned e-scooters to be legalised. However, the government has postponed a decision on that pending the outcome of the three London trials.