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How many have to die before ministers admit e-scooters are death traps

End of the road: How many more people have to die before ministers admit e-scooters are death traps on two wheels, ask victims’ families

  • At least six people have died in accidents involving e-scooters since July 2020 
  • Emily Hartridge was the first person to die in an e-scooter accident in the UK
  • Riziah Moazzeny was injured when she was struck by a scooter on a day out

Little Riziah Moazzeny was on her first trip to London. As the young girl has had more than her fair share of bad luck in life, her parents were determined to create some happy memories on the outing.

Defying doctor’s predictions that she would die before birth, ‘miracle baby’ Riziah was born with complex heart defects and survived a heart operation just days later.

Now aged five, she relies on a pacemaker, is awaiting open-heart surgery and has to use a wheelchair.

So her parents, Naomi and Farzam Moazzeny, were determined to make their day-trip to the capital one to remember.

Travelling by train from their home in Chorley, Lancashire, in August, they visited Buckingham Palace before going to nearby St James’s Park to feed the ducks.

Riziah was clutching a bag of nuts to feed the squirrels when suddenly she was hit head-on by a man speeding by on an electric scooter.

Tragedy: Emily Hartridge, left, was killed when she was thrown from her e-scooter

‘She was flipped into the air and fell, landing on different parts of her body including her arms and hips,’ said Mrs Moazzeny a few days later. ‘We feared she could have broken her arm, and she began going blue.’

An ambulance rushed Riziah to hospital, where she was treated for bruises on her arms, legs and hips, and marks on her head, before eventually being discharged.

‘It is a miracle my daughter is here,’ says Mrs Moazzeny, who now wants e-scooters to be made illegal in parks.

Ms Hartridge was on her way to a fertility clinic when she tragically became the first person in the UK to have been involved in a fatal crash on an e-scooter

The presenter was killed after the e-scooter she was riding was involved in a collision with a HGV in Battersea, south west London last year (pictured, the scene of the crash)

Her story is just one of many tales that highlight the increasing danger created by the e-scooters proliferating on the streets of British towns and cities — they now number more than a million.

At least six people have died in accidents involving them since July 2020, and almost 200 riders have been seriously injured.

Emily Hartridge was the first person to die in an e-scooter accident in the UK, in 2019. 

The 35-year-old TV presenter was riding in Battersea, South London, when an under-inflated tyre caused her to lose control and she was thrown under a lorry. She died instantly from multiple injuries.

Bruises: Riziah Moazzeny was injured when she was struck by a scooter on a day out

What is the current law on e-scooters in Britain? 

According to the Department of Transport, e-scooters are classed as ‘powered transporters’ and meet the legal definition of a ‘motor vehicle’.

They must therefore meet a number of requirements in order to be used on the road, including having insurance and conforming to ‘technical standards.’

As they do not, they are considered illegal to use on roads in Britain.

The Metropolitan Police has also said it is illegal to use e-scooters on the road and riders risk being fined or even having penalty points on their licence.

Riders also risk having their e-scooters seized by police.

The Department of Transport said e-scooters are covered by the 1988 Road Traffic Act, which also includes Segways, hoverboards, go-peds (combustion engine-powered kick scooters), powered unicycles, and u-wheels’.

The ban does not apply to electrically-assisted pedal bicycles.

According to the Department of Transport: ‘For motor vehicles to use public roads lawfully, they must meet a number of different requirements. These include insurance; conformity with technical standards and standards of use; payment of vehicle tax, licensing, and registration; driver testing and licensing; and the use of relevant safety equipment.

‘If the user of a powered transporter could meet these requirements, it might in principle be lawful for them to use public roads. However, it is likely that they will find it very difficult to comply with all of these requirements, meaning that it would be a criminal offence to use them on the road.’

E-scooters are also banned from using pavements under the 1835 Highway Act. E-scooters can be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.

However, since July, you have been able to use them – under certain conditions. 

A legal framework governing trials has confirmed that vehicles will be limited to 15mph and will only be allowed on roads, cycle lanes and tracks, but not pavements.

Only last week, the Mail revealed how ambulance call-outs to incidents involving electric scooters have shot up by a horrific 540 per cent in just two years.

Incidents jumped from 75 in 2019 to 480 in the first eight months of 2021, according to figures obtained exclusively by the Mail through Freedom of Information requests.

These included pedestrians who were mown down in the street and e-scooter riders colliding with cars.

The vast majority of injuries have been head traumas to riders, since many of them don’t wear helmets.

It is illegal to use an e-scooter on a public road or pavement in the UK, unless it’s as part of official government-approved and council-run schemes.

These launched in July 2020 and cover more than 40 towns and cities throughout the country; riders typically pay to hire them per minute.

But last week it emerged that more than 130 pedestrians have been injured by electric scooters in the past year.

Given these startling figures, there are now calls to halt these trials early.

Mother-of-two Frances Bowler knows all too well how dangerous the speeding vehicles can be.

The 59-year-old suffered an agonising injury in a hit-and-run accident earlier this year when a passing e-scooter struck her, ripping open her ankle and slicing through her Achilles’ tendon.

The retired chartered accountant and her husband, Tony, 61, a retired water engineer, were in London to meet up with daughters Rebecca, 31, and Hannah, 26, to celebrate the elder’s birthday on March 29. 

The family had just finished a picnic, and were walking on the pavement on Oxford Street when Mrs Bowler was struck from behind by a speeding e-scooter.

‘The scooter had a metal plate in the front of it which smashed into my leg, leaving a four-inch cut,’ she says.

‘Unfortunately, none of us realised at the time how serious it was — even though there was an awful lot of blood. The rider, who looked as though he was about 20 years old, was unhurt and he just started speeding off. He never even checked to see how I was.’

Four days after the accident, Mrs Bowler still couldn’t walk properly, and six weeks after that an MRI scan confirmed that her Achilles’ tendon had been severed, with no muscles connecting her ankle to her calf.

To make matters worse, her wound became infected while she was awaiting treatment, and she had to be given antibiotics.

She has since had surgery to repair the severed tendon and faces months wearing a cast. 

Last night — eight months on from the accident — she said she is still receiving physiotherapy.

Frances Bowler (pictured) was struck by a hit-and-run rider and has since had surgery to repair the severed tendon

The rider of the e-scooter that hit her has never been found. Mrs Bowler says: ‘These scooters need a strict top speed. Police should be making sure riders don’t ride on the pavement, and there needs to be some sort of identity check [so that riders can be traced in case of an accident] — because at the moment they have zero accountability.’

Throughout the country, thousands of scooters are also regularly being dumped across pavements and in the streets, blighting neighbourhoods and becoming dangerous hazards.

An abandoned scooter had fatal consequences for 75-year-old Philip Jones, who was travelling along the pavement on his mobility vehicle in his hometown of Northampton last October when he found his path blocked by one.

Attempting to clear the vehicle from the pavement, the pensioner struggled out of his mobility chair to move it. But he suffered a catastrophic fall — and died in hospital 12 days later.

His grieving brother, Dennis, has since campaigned to ban e-scooters, writing to the Prime Minister to halt all trials.

Last night, Liverpool pensioner Mary, who is too afraid to give her full name, told the Mail the rise in the use of the scooters had left her and others like her too afraid to walk the streets.

‘I’m disabled with severe arthritis, I have a mobility impairment and need to use crutches,’ said the 73-year-old.

‘For disabled and elderly people, these e-scooters are absolutely terrifying. They rush out of side streets, and I don’t see them until they whizz past. They’ve nearly knocked me over several times. I’m in constant fear.’

Mary is a member of the National Pensioners Convention, which has published a bulletin ‘practically begging the Government not to legalise these e-scooters because of the effect they having on pensioners’, says Mary.

In September, the lives of Nicky MacGregor and her children changed for ever after Stewart MacGregor popped out on his e-scooter to check whether the local garage had stocks during the fuel shortage.

The 53-year-old from Stevenage, Herts, had a crash — involving no other vehicles — and he died in hospital two days later from catastrophic head injuries.

‘I am totally devastated that I won’t ever see him again,’ wife Nicky said at the time.

And cobbler Tony Mumford was ‘over the moon’ when his partner, Cheryl Evans bought him a scooter as a gift earlier this year.

But the 53-year-old came off the vehicle near his repair shop in July, and tragically died a week later in hospital.

Describing the loss of her partner, Ms Evans said: ‘I just wish I had him longer so that we could have grown old together.’

At least six people have died in accidents involving them since July 2020, and almost 200 riders have been seriously injured

In June of last year charity campaigner Barrie Howes lost control of his e-scooter as he travelled down Brompton Hill, a steep residential road in Chatham, Kent.

He flew off and, despite wearing a helmet, he suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Howes — a prolific fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation — was found by a passer-by and airlifted to hospital in London, where his condition deteriorated and he died nine days later.

‘My rock and wonderful husband of 32 years’, his widow Claire wrote in tribute to him. ‘Still helping people by generously donating your liver [and] kidneys. Will always love and miss you.’ E-scooters in government-backed trials must not exceed speeds of 15.5mph or weigh more than 55kg. Users must be more than 16 years old and hold at least a provisional driving licence.

But that has not stopped thousands of people buying them and illegally riding them on British roads — and, far too often, on pavements.

Retailers have enjoyed a boom in sales with more than a million sold, and many do not make it clear that the vehicles should be used only on private land.

While speeds are technically capped at 15.5mph, the scooters can easily be modified to go as fast as 70mph. Critics say this rides roughshod over any intended safety measures. E-scooter drivers who break the law face a fine of £300 and six points on their current or future driver’s licence — but this does not appear to have proved much of a deterrent.

Meanwhile, the trendy vehicles are accused of helping to fuel a two-wheeled crime wave.

In the past 12 months alone, there have been cases of hit-and-runs, drink-driving, a drive-by shooting, drug deliveries, theft as well as riders travelling the wrong way down the motorway.

One vehicle was thrown off a motorway bridge into the path of speeding traffic underneath. And in a hit-and-run incident in London in August, a Metropolitan Police officer suffered a broken leg and concussion.

A Department for Transport spokesman has insisted: ‘Ministers recently wrote to the largest retailers reminding them of their legal duty to provide clear information outlining where electric scooters are and are not permitted to be used.’

But campaigners say that enough is enough.

‘These e-scooter trials are utter carnage. How many more people’s lives have to be lost or changed for ever before the Government acts on this issue?’ says Sarah Gayton of the National Federation of the Blind of the UK.

‘The trials have had long enough to attempt to resolve the issues of injuries, invasion of pedestrian spaces and trip hazards, yet they have not done so.

‘They need to be shut down immediately. The Government is not only asleep on this issue — they have gone into hibernation.’

Meanwhile, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent — which has seen at least two incidents involving charging e-scooters bursting into flames — has called for a total ban. (The scooters are typically charged by being plugged into mains electricity.)

‘Until the sale of private e-scooters is banned altogether, and robust action taken to remove them from our streets, the number of collisions and injuries will grow,’ says Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.

Last week, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an urgent warning to anyone thinking of buying an e-scooter as a Christmas gift this year, highlighting the fact they are illegal on our roads and the risk of head injury.

‘E-scooters are dangerous to their owners, other road users and pedestrians’, says Laura Hughes, ABI’s general insurance manager.

‘It is essential the Government develops robust regulations around their construction and use.’

Ministers have delayed making a decision on whether to legalise privately owned e-scooters on the roads until at least next summer.

But the families of those who have been injured and killed would say that every day they remain on the roads is one too many. 

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