Peterborough City Council to review e-bikes and e-scooters plans following publication of report

E-scooter trials are being carried out in Cambridgeshire.

Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technology, state in the new report that 58 per cent of all UK car journeys are less than 5 miles and in urban areas that figure rises to as high as 69 per cent for journeys of less than three miles.

Furthermore, congestion causes an average of 178 lost hours per year with an associated cost of £8bn; while e-bikes and e-scooters can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 90 per cent when they replace cars in city centres.

David Philipson, Transport Technical Specialist at Cenex said: “Local authorities need to take an active role in the deployment of e-Scooters and e-bikes in their regions, setting out regulations for operators in order to ensure that e-transport solutions meet both their ambitions and their citizens’ needs.

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“It’s evident that e-Scooters and e-bikes are here to stay, with operators committed to continual improvements for the benefit of both the environment and society.

“Though still in its infancy as an industry, e-scooters and e-bikes are already providing a genuine, affordable, green solution to private car use in city centres which will only improve over time.”

The report goes on to warn that if local authorities do not take control of these new forms of transport at the outset of their usage then without appropriate implementation, management, and regulation, e-scooters and e-bikes could disrupt the existing transport network.

Additionally, they claim that distributing them before legislation has been developed will inevitably result in safety concerns and possible accidents.

On July 12, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, died instantly from multiple traumatic injuries in a collision with a lorry in Battersea, London when she was thrown from the e-scooter she was driving that had an underinflated tyre.

The senior coroner, Dr Fiona Jane Wilcox reported (September 4) at the inquest into her death recorded a verdict of accidental death and said: “Ms Hartridge was riding an electric scooter… too fast and with an underinflated tyre and this caused the loss of control that led to her death.”

Ms Hartridge, from Hambledon in Hampshire, is believed to have been the first person in the UK to be killed in a crash involving an e-scooter.

At the most recent Peterborough City Council Full Council meeting (July 29), Cllr Chris Burbage, proposing a motion for the responsible use of e-scooters in the city, said: “At the moment e-scooters are not legal on our roads and there appear to be barriers for the police to take enforcement action with identification of any owner difficult while both they and the vehicle remain unlicensed.

“The government has been consulting on urgent legislation to allow trials of rental e-scooters to commence more rapidly and in more areas than initially planned, as part of its green restart of local transport in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To support this, and to help mitigate reduced public transport capacity, e-scooter trials are being brought forward with the Department of Transport looking to find Local Authorities who are willing to trial rentable e-scooters.

“The intention is to licence particular brands, restrict top speeds and to require riders to have a driving licence and insurance and ride them on roads and cycle lanes only.

“Training, and the wearing of helmets will be encouraged, but not made mandatory, and privately owned e-scooters will remain illegal during the trials.

“Agreements will be contracted between local areas and e-scooter rental companies allowing for these controls to be put in place.

“This Council believes it would be good to look at introducing such vehicles to reduce our carbon footprint and to avoid a risk of COVID-19 transmission on public transport.

“We’re a modern, connected and growing city and we want to support ideas like this that bring greater mobility to our residents.

“However, it is also sensible to take a prudent approach to any new form of transport that has yet to be tested on a large scale in the UK.

“This Council resolves to consider whether to introduce e-scooters with the proper licensing and agreements as one alternative form of transport to the motor vehicle to reduce carbon emissions. This needs to be referred to the next meeting of the Growth, Environment and Resources Scrutiny Committee for further consideration.”

A spokesperson for Peterborough City Council said: “The latest is that we will not be taking part in the first phase of the e-scooter trials but will be reviewing how it works in other areas.

“We are still in discussions about trialing e-bikes in certain locations and should be able to provide a further update in the near future.”

The next meeting of the city council’s Growth, Environment and Resources Scrutiny Committee is due to take place online on September 28.