Electric scooters set to spark change in local travel

Zipp scooters parked in Aylesbury

“We might just be on the cusp of a local transport revolution as we learn to live with the effects of Covid,” says Cllr. Steve Broadbent, Buckinghamshire Council’s new Cabinet Member for Transport.

“The pandemic has and will continue to affect most aspects of our lives going forward. The way we get around, particularly those shorter local journeys, is just one example where we need to think differently and look for potential alternatives like e-scooters, rather than using our cars or taking a bus or taxi.

“This alternative use for short journeys, and the switch from cars, can help contribute to the Council’s carbon net-zero pledge/climate change strategy by reducing car journeys and emissions over time. Therefore, the switch is not just limited to a pandemic-initiated change.

“Of course, as a Council we are doing everything we can to promote traditional alternatives like walking or cycling, which as we all know, saves money, is healthier for us and better for the environment. But we’re also rightly looking wider, which is why we put ourselves forward to be part of the official Government e-scooter trials and now have three schemes in place across Aylesbury, High Wycombe and most recently Princes Risborough.

“Already, the growth and usage has been evident in both Aylesbury and High Wycombe and it’s been just as encouraging in the smaller town area of Princes Risborough too during its first few weeks of operating. So far, across the three trial areas, we’ve seen more than 45,000 rides covering in excess of 90,000 miles. Average ride time is around 15 minutes, and average trip length is around 2 miles.

“The trials are to properly evaluate how e-scooters work for real in different town and city settings across the country. Like anything new, there’s been immediate benefits, some inevitable scepticism, and areas where things have been tweaked. Anonymised usage data is being collected as part of the trials and it will be for the Government to finally decide whether e-scooters become a permanent feature on our roads and cycleways and in what form. However, the usage and comments from our three trials have been overwhelmingly positive so far with only one reported injury and just a handful of complaints about poor scooter riding and inconsiderate parking outside of the designated bays.

“Before our trials started, we had extensive dialogue with stakeholders including local councils, disability organisations, Thames Valley Police and Community Boards to help the bespoke design of each scheme. Of course, working with our operators, Zipp Mobility, we continue to address any safety concerns and instances of poor riding, including banning persistent offenders from renting if we need to. I’m sure we’ve probably all seen bad drivers, bad motorcycle riders and bad cyclists as well, so I’m sure this behaviour is not confined to e-scooter riders only, but nevertheless we will continue to act where we can.

“It’s also worth repeating that only e-scooters provided as part of a government sanctioned pilot can legally be used on the road. This ensures that they are properly insured, speed limited and ‘geofenced’ so they stop working in areas where we don’t want them operational. As the law currently stands, any personally owned scooters remain illegal to use anywhere other than on privately owned land with the landowners permission. Sellers of these scooters should be making purchasers fully aware of these restrictions and we know the police are already cracking down, so you have been warned.

“I’d be the first to say that e-scootering may not be for everyone, but why not at least try one during the trial period? They’re cheap to rent, easy to ride and you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to buy one. I’m convinced there will be a demand for e-scooter schemes in the future, as our local travel habits adapt to a different world going forward. The benefits are there, and any downsides can be mitigated with ongoing education and behaviour change messages.

“So go on, get the Zipp app today, give one a try and let us know what you think.”

For further details on the e-scooter trial, please visit: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport/buckinghamshire-electric-scooter-trial