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Kent BANS e-scooters following trial before 'someone is hurt'

Kent BANS e-scooters after two-year trial: Councillors reject plea to extend pilot scheme after grandmother, 80, suffered a cracked jaw when she was knocked to the ground by a rider

  • E-scooters in Canterbury, Kent will be axed from the roads from December 1
  • Councillors stepped in before ‘someone is seriously hurt’ by Bird e-scooters
  • 80-year-old grandmother broke wrist and cheekbone and cracked her jaw in July
  • Kent County Council offered chance to extend two-year pilot trial but rejected it

Electric scooters in Kent will be axed from the roads following a two-year trial with councillors stepping in before ‘someone is seriously hurt’. 

The e-scooter pilot scheme, launched in Canterbury, Kent, in November 2020 for an initial year has twice been extended despite public safety fears.

Kent County Council have now rejected an offer from the Department for Transport to continue the trial until May 2024 – almost two years longer than its current end date of November 30 this year. 

From December 1 there will be no legally ridden e-scooters on Kent’s streets, as they are only permitted on public highways as part of government-approved trials.

Transport councillor David Brazier has been in charge of overseeing the trial. ‘As we were nearing the end of the trial, I decided to truncate it before someone was seriously hurt,’ he said.

‘Recently an elderly lady was quite seriously injured by one being ridden on a pedestrian area which was not allowed,’ he added in reference to Ms Carter’s accident.

It comes after an 80-year-old grandmother suffered a broken wrist, cracked cheekbone and jaw in July after being struck by an e-scooter being ridden along a pavement in Canterbury. 

Sarah Carter, a retired university librarian, called for the city-wide trial scheme to end after her accident. She labelled the e-scooters ‘lethal’ and branded the council ‘irresponsible’ for the lack of infrastructure put in place.

Sarah Carter, 80, suffered a broken wrist, a cracked cheekbone and jaw after being struck by an e-scooter in Canterbury, Kent

 Ms Carter is a mother of two and grandmother to four. She was on her way to a local shop when the collision occurred

Renting an e-scooter is the only way to legally ride the vehicle on some public roads or in other public place at the moment.

But the controversial vehicles could be approved for use across the UK following a trial period. Currently, 10 London boroughs are taking part in the scheme with three providers to test how e-scooters work on the capital’s roads.

Riding e-scooters on the pavement however is banned, and riders must be 18 or over and have a full or provisional driving licence to rent one.

It is also illegal to use privately owned e-scooters or other powered transporters on public roads.

Relevant laws on e-scooter use include:

On public roads, anyone using a privately owned e-scooter or other powered transporter is likely to be committing at least one of a number of offences such as driving a motor vehicle with no insurance. You could be liable for a fixed penalty of £300 and six points on your driving licence

On pavements, it is generally an offence to drive a motor vehicle, and this applies at all times to e-scooters and powered transporters

E-scooters and powered transporters may be used on private land with permission from the landowner or occupier

E-scooters rented from the TfL scheme will be permitted to ride on London’s public roads and cycle infrastructure in participating boroughs.

These boroughs will designate no-go areas where e-scooters cannot be ridden and will come to a safe stop, as well as go-slow areas, where the speed of e-scooters will be reduced to 8mph

Source: TfL 

After her accident, she said: ‘Another elderly person could have quite easily been even more seriously injured or even killed.’ 

The grandmother-of-four was taken by ambulance to the William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford, where she spent a total of eight hours in hospital, including four hours in A&E having her injuries assessed and undergoing surgery. 

E-scooters across the southeastern county will now start to disappear off the roads ahead of the pilot period finishing. 

Cllr Brazier revealed that he ‘tended to favour’ the trial proceeding but highlighted that ‘it was quite obvious now accidents could have been worse than they were’. 

‘You cannot legislate against people who will agree to use something in a certain way and then suit themselves,’ he said at a cross-party committee meeting. 

He told councillors that e-scooter riders had been using routes that were not permitted by the official pilot, operated by Bird.

In 2021 there were 1,280 collisions involving e-scooters across the UK, according to The Department for Transport. These incidents caused 1,359 casualties and nine deaths.

It is understood the Canterbury pilot could now be reduced to a single route before November 30 – the corridor between the university and city centre.

A spokesperson for Kent County Council said: ‘In recent months, Bird, working to deliver this trial for Kent County Council, has introduced enhanced safety measures including a reduction of the electric scooter speeds from 15mph to 12mph.

The council also said that ‘Birdwatchers’ were sent out to patrol the city for pavement riding while Bird also changed their rider policy to introduce an immediate ban for any misdemeanour.

‘Kent County Council has decided to gradually reduce the number of vehicles in the trial, as well as the areas in which they operate, ahead of the trial finishing in Kent at the end of November,’ a spokesperson added.

Meanwhile Bird were ‘clearly very disappointed with this decision’. ‘We have an incredibly low incident rate of 0.0014 per cent out of almost 67,000 rides since we launched in 2020, and one in five eligible Canterbury riders have used our vehicles, opting for sustainable travel and ditching petrol-powered trips,’ a spokesperson said.

The reported number of casualties in collisions involving e-scooters skyrocketed in the UK in 2021

‘We will continue to provide our eco-friendly and convenient vehicles for Canterbury residents until the end of November.’

While there have been many complaints, Cllr Brazier described Bird as ‘competent and professional people’ who have ‘taken many steps to ensure the safety of their contractors and the public at large’.

There are 29 other government-approved trials but when they all end in May 2024, the government is expected to make a decision on whether or not to approve the use of e-scooters on public highways in the UK.

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