Why we could be seeing a lot more of e-scooters in 2021

4th Dec, 2020

You’ve probably read at least a bit about e-scooters before – they’ve been making headlines recently as a new, more sustainable way to travel for short distances, and we briefly touched on them ourselves in our post about how lockdown is changing how we use our cars.

Basically, air quality has long been a problem in major cities like London, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool, and when all traffic stopped over the spring and summer, people all over the country enjoyed noticeably cleaner air. Now that we’ve all had a taste of it, many of us want to keep it that way, so the hope is that e-scooters will be able to replace cars for certain journeys. Who knows, some day you might not be asking what’s the best way to scrap my car, but the best way to scrap my scooter instead! So, why might we be seeing might of them in the very near future?

Where do things stand with electric scooters right now?

The UK Transport Committee of MPs is satisfied that they could offer a greener alternative to common petrol or diesel cars, helping people get where they need to go while still breathing fresh air and reducing congestion. By all accounts, it’s a pretty nifty bit of kit. The e-scooters being trialled in Newcastle right now have a battery life of up to 30 miles, and have been described in the local press as being ‘easy to use’, while providing ‘a smooth and fun drive’.

However, as one official noted, the challenge is to ensure that the arrival of e-scooters on the streets doesn’t make life more difficult for pedestrians, especially disabled people. So while e-scooters will probably be legalised on roads, they’re explicitly banned from being ridden on pavements.

In fact, as the law currently stands, privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use on public roads, pavements and parks. If you own your own e-scooter, you can only ride it on private land with the express permission of the landowner. Riders found to be in breach of this could get a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence, if they have one. The scooter in question will probably be seized too.

So does that mean you can’t ride e-scooters in cities right now? Well, not quite. Some cities are trialling e-scooter schemes by making them available for rent within limited areas. There are conditions, though – as well as staying within the designated boundary, riders will need a driving licence (full or provisional) for a car, motorcycle or moped, and be aged 16 or over. Helmets are strongly encouraged too.

Which cities are adopting them?

As we’ve just touched upon, new rules from the Department of Transport allows local authorities to run e-scooter sharing schemes. London is currently hosting the country’s largest e-scooter trial, although Transport for London has already given the go-ahead for them to be on the city’s streets full time from Spring next year.

Other participating authorities include those in Tees Valley, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, the North West, and the West Midlands. There’s been a particularly sharp rise of the number of e-scooters recently in Liverpool, which is running a year-long pilot scheme for them. Newcastle has become the latest UK city to host a similar scheme, as part of a concerted effort to cut down on the level of air pollution.

However, it’s not all been smooth sailing. An e-scooter trial in Coventry was paused after five days following concerns about pedestrian safety, and e-scooters being found on the streets.


The problems with e-scooters

Now, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you that while e-scooters have promising potential in helping us to lower our collective emissions, they’re not perfect by any means. There’s still a common (and very understandable) worry that they’ll be used a lot on pavements, which is one of the main reasons why 10mph is already being set as the maximum speed by operators. That speed gets even lower in high footfall areas, dropping down to only 5mph.

There’s also a worrying precedent set in some cities for Mobikes, the ‘dockless’ two-wheeled bikes that were designed for anyone to use. Ultimately, they were withdrawn from many areas in the UK because of the amount of bikes that were being vandalised, stolen, or simply thrown in rivers and canals. How could e-scooters avoid the same fate?

Newcastle’s e-scooter operator is a company called Bird, and a representative of theirs has already put forward a few ideas. He says that their e-scooters at least will be connected by GPS, so that the company knows where they are at all times. They’ll also use geo-fencing so that when the e-scooters cross the designated boundary, they’ll simply stop working. The company can also set speed limits in advance, helping to cut down on the risk of dangerous accidents.

The issues aren’t all to do with their operation, however. While e-scooters certainly offer a tangible benefit in a reduction of emissions, there are still questions surrounding the processes being used to recharge e-scooter batteries, and how sustainable that is in the long run. A lot of the related issues are very similar to the current challenges that we’re facing with the long-term rollout of electric cars.

At the moment, it remains to be seen whether e-scooters are will indeed be the next revolution in personal transport, or whether they’re doomed to end up as a fad, or confined to very specific areas.

Either way, you can always rely on us here at Scrap Car Network to be able to help you with your four-wheel mode of transport. We guarantee to get you the best price when you scrap your car with us – all you need to do is enter a few details into our homepage, and we’ll provide you with an instant online quote then and there. Curious to find out how much your car is worth?

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