Since 2018, sales of electric scooters in the UK have sky rocketed. Their popularity has grown exponentially, with sales figures growing by over 300% year on year. With more and more electric scooters on the road, the likelihood serious electric scooter injury claims is increasing.
In Lincolnshire, the rise in popularity of electric scooters has been clear for us all to see. It’s not uncommon to see electric scooters whizzing in and out of pedestrians in our town centres and pulling up next to cars on the surrounding roads.
But are electric scooters a viable and safe alternative to cars or bicycles? We take a look in this month’s blog.
So, why are electric scooters so popular?
Sales of electric scooters in the UK began to grow 2017. Until recently, the use of electric scooters was considered as recreational but their use in the UK is evolving, and quickly.
Electric scooters are big business. Cities around the world, particularly in the US in San Francisco and in LA, use electric scooters in a similar way London uses “Boris Bikes”. Companies such as “Bird” and “Lime” reported up to 11.5 million rides in the 12 months following their launch in 2017.
Electric scooters are cheap to run, produce almost zero carbon emissions and are seen as trendy. Analysts predict by 2030, the global electric scooter market will be valued at between 300 to 500 billion dollars.
Are they even allowed on our roads?
The UK is way behind other countries when it comes to allowing the use of electric scooters on our roads. The use of electric scooters here is very much a work in progress.
It is currently illegal for privately owned electric scooters to be used on our public highways and on the pavement, under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835. Local Police Forces from around the country have issued thousands of fines and seized hundreds of electric scooters from those flouting this rules.
However, the Department for Transport launched a rental trial in May 2020 to explore the impact of electric scooters on our roads. The scheme allows local authorities and private companies to rent electric scooters, in line with government guidance. The Transport Committee fast tracked the trials, which were due to start in 2021 but were brought forward to see if they were a viable solution to socially distanced commuting in our cities, suburbs and towns. The trials were to see what impact electric scooters had on other road users, pedestrians, overall safety and the environment.
The Government imposed a maximum speed limit for the e-scooter rental trials of 15.5mph. Local authorities have been given the responsibility to ensure anti-social behaviour is dealt with accordingly, as clearly the use of electric scooters in busy town centres is asking for trouble. The government will be monitoring collisions during the trials to determine future insurance requirements.
So where are the trials now?
These trials around the UK are in full force.
The scheme in Bristol for example, has launched a second trial which is exploring leasing electric scooters to people for a monthly fee. The scheme will be open to anyone who lives in the West of England Combined Authority area, which includes Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North Somerset. This is the second stage of the pilot scheme, which allows scooters to be legally ridden on the roads of Bristol and Bath.
Until recently, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London, was the only place in the UK where a rental e-scooter could be used legally.
The first 12-month trial is also up and running in Middlesbrough, with the hope that 500 electric scooters will be made available across the Tees Valley, mostly aimed at commuters.
How safe is it to ride an electric scooter?
Electric scooters are not toys and should not be underestimated. They can reach speeds of up to 30mph, albeit the pilot rental schemes have limited the top speed to 15.5mph.
Electric scooters have small wheels and limited protection compared to cars. They no side protection in the form of doors or a roof and obviously no airbags, so any accident at these high speeds could lead to very serious injuries for the scooter rider.
Other factors to consider is that electric scooters are less visible to other road users, even less so than cyclists that often wear high visibility clothing. Then there are potholes in the road, speed bumps and even extreme weather conditions to consider which could cause you to lose control of your scooter.
Anyone that decides to ride an e-scooter should be extremely cautious and understand the very real risks involved and for the safety of the electric scooter rider and other road users, should be an existing and competent road user.
So what’s next for electric scooters in the UK?
Despite their popularity, the use of privately owned electric scooters remains illegal on our roads.
Until the government and local authorities have finished their trials, we won’t know what the future holds.
What to do if you have an accident?
The solicitors are Nigel Askew Solicitors specialise in serious injury claims resulting from road traffic accidents.
If you have sustained an electric scooter injury or if you are a road user that has been involved in an accident with an electric scooter then contact us today. Our specialists will be happy to advise you on your legal position and if you have sustained injuries in the accident then we can advise you on a personal injury claim.
Call us on 01507 609027 or complete the enquiry form on this page.
For more information about Electric Scooter Injury claims, click here.