David Sidwick's blog on e-scooters
I’m very pleased to see Dorset Police taking proactive steps to deal with the illegal use of e-scooters.
Officers have been out and about across Bournemouth talking to riders of private e-scooters, letting them know exactly where they can use these devices legally – and more importantly where they can’t.
They’ve been taking down the details of anyone who’s been seen riding a scooter, and warning them that anyone using them on public land should stop immediately. If they persist, they risk having the item seized and facing prosecution.
The use of e-scooters has shot up over the last few months and I know from talking to members of the public that a lot of people are very concerned about them.
This is particularly the case when they’re ridden along pavements and cycle lanes, as they often are, and there are fears about the safety of pedestrians, especially elderly and vulnerable people.
This concern is very understandable, when you consider that many e-scooters can comfortably travel at 30mph – some even faster – and they are almost silent.
E-scooters were one of the main issues that residents brought up when I was campaigning in the recent Police and Crime Commissioner elections. The volume of e-mails I received about them certainly didn’t diminish after I took up office – in fact, it was raised immediately by many members of the public.
There may be some people who simply don’t like e-scooters because they are a new and innovative device to appear on our streets. I am not one of them. In fact, I believe if used correctly, they could be a transformative form of personal transport.
Unfortunately, they are rarely used correctly and there are significant practical issues. This seems like a classic example of legislation currently not being able to keep pace with technological developments.
Some e-scooter riders may be using them in all innocence without being aware of the legislation surrounding them, and so the Force’s operation is very much aimed at clearing this up and making sure there is absolutely no room for confusion.
What is the law?
So, to give a quick summary, the only place you can currently ride a private e-scooter is on private land with the landowner’s permission.
That means it’s against the law to use one on any public land – which includes roads, pavements, cycle lanes, beach promenades, bridleways or land such as parks and car parks.
An e-scooter is technically classed as a ‘powered transporter’ and has exactly the same requirements as a car or motorbike – which includes MOT, tax, licensing and insurance. If you ask anyone riding an e-scooter along Bournemouth promenade whether they’ve met that checklist, the chances are you’ll be met with a very blank expression.
All of this means that, if you’re caught using an e-scooter on a public road or pavement, you’re committing a criminal offence, the device could be seized, and you could end up with a fine, penalty points or you could even be banned from driving.
The good news
The good news is that this only applies to private e-scooters. The Government are currently running trials for rental e-scooter schemes across the country. These are the only types of e-scooters that are legal to ride in public, and this includes BCP Council’s Beryl Bikes scheme.
This allows users to ride fully insured rental e-scooters on roads in Bournemouth and Poole, as well as on an expanding network of signed cycle lanes.
Crucially, the scheme demands that users must be over 16 and hold a valid driving licence, which is verified by the company before they’re allowed anywhere near one of their e-scooters.
My understanding is that Beryl manage the scheme very professionally, and anyone found to be breaking their rules is immediately banned. You can report misuse of a Beryl e-scooter here or report a Beryl e-scooter parked in the wrong place by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 3003 5044.
So, if you want to use an e-scooter, this is the way to do it. As I said earlier, e-scooters could transform the way people get about, but it is responsibly run schemes like this that point the way to the future.
As for those people who persist in using private devices recklessly on our roads, I can only repeat the warning from officers – they’re breaking the law and risk prosecution.
But I’m glad to say that, just two weeks into my role as PCC, we have listened to what you – the public – have said and we have acted upon it.