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Insight

Jennifer Buchanan raises safety concerns around legislation of privately owned e-scooters

The Queen’s speech delivered recently included plans to make e-scooters legal, despite a huge surge in the number of people needing hospital treatment after using them, plus a big increase in the number of ambulances called to attend e-scooter accidents on the roads.

Currently, only local council e-scooters as part of a government trial are permitted on public roads. These are speed limited with users insured under the scheme for any damage they inflict on themselves or other people. In reality, however, this has proved a cloudy area for anyone attempting to claim.

Meanwhile, privately owned e-scooters currently only permitted to be driven on private roads look set to be legalised for use on all roads. The main argument is that legalisation comes with the significant opportunity to enforce tighter safety regulations for private e-scooters, and to improve education to ensure that all road users have access to safe, green transport.

Data have been released highlighting a 40 per cent increase in the number of e-scooter accident patients being referred to A&E between 2020 and 2021. 173 patients treated at the scene of an accident being taken to their local A&E facility during 2021, up from 124 in 2020. 82 per cent more ambulances were called to assist e-scooter related accidents during 2021 than 2020.

Reported statistics also show that there have been 900 collisions involving e-scooters, 11 of which were fatal.

Recent changes to the Highway Code place the onus on road users to protect the most vulnerable, with motorists given the responsibility to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and cyclists in turn responsible for protecting pedestrians. 

I have cycled in London for many years and I feel more vulnerable than ever on the roads. The ripple effect from the pandemic whereby people are avoiding public transport alongside an ever-increasing myriad of people using the bike lanes including: bikes, electric bikes and now scooters is only a recipe for disaster.

I have actually been knocked off by an e-scooter without a limiter shooting down a bike lane and it’s a scary experience. Alongside increasing number of serious injury enquiries and hearing from eminent consultants about fatalities arising from such accidents, my concern is that the safety of all road users is seriously threatened by the possibility of thousands more e-scooters let loose on the roads.

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