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E-scooters: what's next for Bristol?

by Georgie Moorhead, an Associate Solicitor in our National Serious Injury Team

Legislation around e-scooters varies widely around the world. In the UK, e-scooters can currently only legally be used on private land, although a number of cities across the UK are trialling rental e-scooter schemes with a view to introducing permanent use of electric scooters in the short- term future.

It’s easy to understand why such trials are being considered and encouraged. From environmental concerns about pollution to frustrations about city centre traffic and congestion charges, e-scooters may at first seem like the ideal solution.

City's e-scooter trial

In Bristol, the Voi e-scooter trial led by the West of England Combined Authority begun back in October 2020 and Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees has recently declared the trial as an “overwhelming success”. 

He would like to see the local authority in Bristol extend the trial until March 2022 and has said that he anticipates the legalisation of private scooters on city roads within that same period.

Too good to be true?

However, could this all be too good to be true?

Recent research from dashcam company Nextbase has estimated that e-scooters will likely be involved in up to 200,000 accidents in the UK by the end of this year and data from Avon and Somerset Police shows that 237 incidents involving e-scooters have been recorded in Bristol so far (nine of these were related to the Voi trial and the rest involved privately- owned scooters). 

In 2019, 35-year-old YouTuber Emily Hartridge became the first person in the UK to die following a road collision whilst using an e-scooter. On 5 September, 2021, the Mail Online published concerning video footage of an e-scooter rider riding along the A13 in London alongside lorries and cars travelling at 50mph.

Results of e-scooter trials need to shape the law

Amidst mounting concerns about the safety of e-scooters, careful consideration is clearly needed to regulate their safe use, particularly in busy city centres. Greener, healthier modes of transport should of course be welcomed but e-scooter riders need to be aware that road traffic laws, from speeding to using mobile phones or riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol, apply to e-scooters as well as other road users.

Hopefully, the various trials across the UK will be used to influence and inform the implementation of clear legislation, together with strict governance and enforcement to keep riders, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers safe on our roads and pavements.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping people following road accidents at our dedicated serious injury section.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees has said the local authority is pushing for the Voi e-scooters trial, led by the West of England Combined Authority (Weca), to be extended until the end of March next year because it has been an “overwhelming success”.”