In response to a press article by the Brighton and Hove News Paper the Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle questioned using police time on illegal scooters and pressed for a trial of the legal e-scooter, the National Federation of the Blind of the UK would like to make this response to his comments.
The NFBUK unreservedly welcomes Sussex police action on getting illegal e-scooters off the streets. They are terrifying and traumatising blind, visually impaired and vulnerable pedestrians across the UK. E-scooters have managed to infiltrate and access all areas where only pedestrians have traditionally had access too, making these safe spaces unsafe to use. E-scooters are being ridden at speed, in very close proximity to pedestrians and without any concern for the safety of others. The NFBUK actually filmed a private e-scooter being ridden directly into Highbury and Islington Train Station in London early in the year, this behaviour can never be safe. If pedestrians dare to speak out about this behaviour they can expect a mouthful of abuse back or even worse they could be physically attacked for speaking up.
The NFBUK would like to ask the MP if he has actually looked at the design of the e-scooter, its tall narrow handle bars make it very difficult for the riders to keep going straight on, the concentration just to stop upright is immense. It is like a skate board with a pogo stick, as soon as it hits a pothole or a kerb, the rider very quickly hits the pavement face first. Broken bones, head injuries and painful grazes and bruises are common with this form of mobility. E-scooters are not stable, not roadworthy and not fit for purpose. If the MP wanted to help the police in their work load he would actually be pushing for legislation to stop the shops selling them, as if this was introduced, private e-scooters would quickly disappear from our streets.
It is very worrying the MP is not aware of the problems which have arisen in the e-scooter trials, as if he was he would truly understand that starting another trial is the complete opposite that needs to happen. In fact the ongoing trials need to be halted due to unresolved safety and accessibility concerns for both the riders and pedestrians.
• Anti-social riding is rife in the trial areas, with riders using the pavements and dropped kerbs to pull stunts on and pavements been used to take short cuts around pedestrian crossings.
• The parking of rentable e-scooters have also not been resolved. They are still being left in dangerous locations on pavements and public spaces, creating trip hazards and obstructions for blind, disabled and vulnerable pedestrians. Even when racks are deployed these are being put on pavements which then become street clutter and pavement parking for motorised vehicles. This is not safe as they create obstructions, trip hazards and riders use the pavement to access them, with many e-scooters being ridden in an anti-social manner. The three photos below illustrate these points.
• Rental e-scooters are easily passed from the person who hired them to a friend to ride, as shown in Birmingham, Nottingham, London and Redditch. This means there will be no age checks, no licence checks, no basic safety training given by the app and no signing of the agreement to use the app which brings into question if the insurance is validated. It is our understanding this very basic but fundamental safety check has not been resolved.
• The safety of the actual rentable e-scooters have been identified in a number of the UK trials, including London, Birmingham Liverpool, Rochdale, Corby, Northampton, Kettering, Nottingham and Redditch. Where tyre safety and other safety issues have been found.
The situation in the trial areas has never been in control. Instead of reducing the polices time spent on policing illegal e-scooters, their time will be doubled or even tripled as although the legal ones may come under legislation, it is clear the users of them have never read the laws that govern them. It’s like the laws never existed for the legal ones being used under the trial. Not only will they have to police the illegal ones they would also have to regulate the legal ones. It is clear the MP is not well briefed on this issue and his comments are ill judged.
The NFBUK are more than welcome to meet with the MP to explain why we are calling for all trials to be halted and why we want the shops to be stopped selling them. In the meantime he may be interested to watch this video which explains the concerns when the NFBUK petitioned against e-scooters at Number 10 on the 9 September 2021.