E-Scooters – Regulations Must Be Adequately Enforced

Electric scooters need regulation and those regulations need to be rigorously enforced.

My wife Rosemarie was knocked down in Bournemouth on Saturday evening (23/09/23) by two young girls in the dark on an electric scooter. The driver couldn’t control it properly. It just missed me, but either the e-scooter or one of the girls or both struck Rosemarie very hard, knocking her onto the tarmac.

Rosemarie was very badly bruised, with a black eye and lacerations to her face, huge and spectacular bruises to her arm and thigh. In addition, sustained a blow to the head. This is very dangerous indeed for an elderly person on anti-coagulants. She was also lucky that she did not have her hip or femur broken.

Fortunately, after being taken to a hospital equipped with scanners, after prolonged observations and hourly tests, a blood sample and a brain scan confirmed no intracranial bleeding. After 13½ hours in A&E in Poole I was able to take her back to the hotel in Bournemouth. We got back just before breakfast finished being served, got a little to eat and slept till late afternoon.

The following morning we had breakfast with a colleague who now lives in Belgium. In the Benelux countries there is a massive use of bicycles, but electrically propelled or assisted bikes (called “pedelecs”) and scooters have to fall into a number of detailed categories which are tightly regulated as to age/speed/competence – and the machines have appropriate speed limiters.

The regulations covering the faster (20+ kmph) electric assisted bicycles – called “speedpedelecs” – designed for commuting 10 – 15 km between towns on dedicated cycleways are almost as tight as the regulations for motorbikes.

In Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP), Dorset’s Police & Crime Commissioner says, “You cannot buy and use an e-scooter on any public land and that includes roads, pavements, pathways, bridleways or walkways – so unless you personally own great swathes of land in Dorset you simply cannot ride these machines legally outside of the Beryl rental scheme.”

The only legal use of e-scooters in BCP is on a “Beryl”, which requires users to register via an app with BCP Council and their driver’s licence details must be added. Hirers need to have a full or provisional driving licence and be over 16 years of age.

Beryl e-scooters are geo-fenced and are limited to 12.5mph, reducing to 7.5mph in the town centre area and in parks. I am told that they also switch off at 9 pm.

Figures by the Department for Transport show 20 people were recorded as injured by Dorset Police last year, with nearly 1,500 casualties involving e-scooters nationwide.

For the year leading to January 2023, Dorset Police seized 85 e-scooters from the county’s roads and, when it comes to enforcement, these are subject to the same legal requirements as a car – including MOT, licence and insurance.

There are two serious problems.

First the UK permits unrestricted import of e-scooters, mostly from China, with no checks on the safety either of the e-scooters or the batteries they use.

Second, there is insufficient enforcement of the existing regulations which prohibit the illegal use of e-scooters.

The Dorset PCC is however negotiating with Beryl concerning the fitting of easily visible identification plates to their e-scooters. This would at least have the effect of making it easier to spot illegal private e-scooters from a distance.