E-scooters will be fitted with number plates on the front and back

E-scooters will be fitted with number plates on the front and back so anti-social riders can be tracked on CCTV – as rental firm behind UK trials claims users in England are WORST in Europe

  • Swedish company behind e-scooter trials in Coventry to introduce new rules
  • The measures are targeted at tackling anti-social behaviour among UK riders 
  • Voi’s scheme lasted five days and attracted 5,000 riders before it was stopped 
  • Company’s UK and Ireland manager says it has bad behaviour problem in the UK 

Electric scooters will now be fitted with number plates to help track antisocial riders amid warnings that users in England are the worst behaved in Europe. 

The license plates will be installed on the front and back of the e-scooters over the next few weeks, despite not being required by law. 

Voi, the Swedish company behind the recent e-scooter trials in Coventry and 12 other cities, will look to introduce a series of new measures to improve safety.  

It will also bring in more staff to monitor the scheme, a ‘one strike and you’re out’ ban on people who misuse them and incentives to complete a driver training course. 

Voi decided to suspend its trial in Coventry after just five days, where its scooters were used by 5,000 people. 

The suspension came amid reported of riders mounting pavements and riding in pedestrianised areas. 

Voi, the Swedish company behind the recent e-scooter trials in Coventry and 12 other cities, has complained about anti-social behaviour in the UK

Voi decided to suspend its trial in Coventry after just five days, where its scooters were used by 5,000 people

Another trial run by a separate company in Middlesbrough was also scaled back last month, following reports of under-age users causing havoc.  

Richard Corbett, Voi’s general manager for Britain and Ireland, said: ‘We have an antisocial behaviour issue. That is something that is not unique to Coventry or Middlesbrough or any city. I think we have an antisocial behaviour issue across the country and, when launching, there is a small minority that are ruining it for the majority.

‘We haven’t seen this level of antisocial behaviour in any other market. We have had great experience of it but the volume of it in the UK was quite surprising.’ 

He added that extra measures would be introduced to stop anti-social behaviour. 

It is hoped that the Coventry scheme will restart next month.

Mr Corbett said Voi had agreed with Coventry council to implement number plates. 

Where can I ride an e-scooter? It’s okay on the roads… but not on the pavements 

Riding rental e-scooters on the roads and cycle paths became legal on July 4. 

However, riding these scooters on pavements will remain illegal and will only be allowed in pre-approved locations where the hiring scheme is taking place. 

It will still be illegal to ride privately-owned electric scooters on the pavement, roads and cycle paths.

You can only ride your own e-scooter on private land, with permission from the person who owns the land. 

You must have a driving licence or a provisional driving licence and be at least 16 years old to hire an electric scooter. 

They will be limited to a maximum speed of 15.5mph and it’s recommended that riders wear a helmet, though it isn’t mandatory.  

Privately-owned e-scooters cannot be legally ridden on the roads because they don’t always have visible rear red lights, number plates or signally ability. 

They are treated the same as motor vehicles because they are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs). 

This means they are subject to the same legal requirements as other motor vehicles and must therefore have MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction.   

However, he expressed his frustration at the situation and added: ‘It is unfortunate that we need to babysit the customer and we shouldn’t have to do that and we don’t want to do it.’

The trial was launched in Coventry and Birmingham, where a tour guide warned members of the public ‘are going to get killed’.

Jonathan Berg, who runs Positively Birmingham walking tours, said he was horrified when his young female assistant guide was ‘toppled like a tree from behind’ on Saturday.

Mr Berg said she was knocked over by an e-scooter rider despite there being plenty of room for social distancing.

The former medical professor said: ‘Luckily this scooter was not going fast.

‘We had several near-misses from very fast machines – people are going to get killed if we do not police this urgently.

‘The e-scooters have given a green light to everyone who wants to be reckless.

‘The scooters only started on Thursday and, overall, seem like a great idea but they are not without risk.

‘When we introduce them into the city, we need to be really careful that we police their introduction in a way that people understand how to use them in an appropriate way.’

Mr Berg said the Voi app was revealing some of the scooters were already in suburbs as far afield as Perry Barr.

And one Voi rep revealed on Sunday: “We’ve also been told there’s one in a canal.

The Department for Transport launched a new 12 month scheme at the start of July which would make it legal to ride e-scooters on roads – they would, however, need to be rented and would be capped at 15.5mph.

Local authorities have to opt into the scheme, while private companies provide the hire-vehicles. 

Coventry City Council paused the scheme on Monday. 

A spokesman for the council said: ‘The initial take-up has been encouraging but we need to ensure that the safety of all people using the city centre is protected and that the e-scooters are used in the proper way, hence our decision to pause the pilot until systems are improved.’ 

Riding rental e-scooters on the roads and cycle paths became legal on July 4. 

Milton Keynes and Birmingham have successfully launched the scheme, with around 50 local authorities thought to be interested. 

However, riding these scooters on pavements will remain illegal and will only be allowed in pre-approved locations where the hiring scheme is taking place. 

It will still be illegal to ride privately-owned electric scooters on the pavement, roads and cycle paths.

You can only ride your own e-scooter on private land, with permission from the person who owns the land. 

YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 34, became the first person in the UK to die in an e-scooter accident when she was struck by a lorry in Battersea in July 2019

You must have a driving licence or a provisional driving licence and be at least 16 years old to hire an electric scooter. 

Road safety groups and charities advocating for protection of people with sensory difficulties have raised serious objections to the legalisation of e-scooters.

Chris Theobald, public affairs manager at Guide Dogs, said: ‘E-scooters are extremely difficult for blind and partially sighted people to detect and avoid because they operate quietly which makes them difficult to hear. 

‘It’s disappointing that despite sharing information and best practice guidelines with all operators, reassurances made by some operators about safety and use of e-scooters have not been met. 

‘Local authorities running the trials need to make sure that operators are meeting their obligations and if the trials are not being run safely, they need to be reviewed and paused immediately if necessary.’

Andrew Hodgson, president of the National Federation for the Blind, said in June: ‘After learning about the accidents e-scooters have caused, it is very clear to me they are not fit for purpose.

‘Riders appear to fall from them very easily, causing serious head injuries along with many broken bones.

‘It is also clear from practical experience, dockless e-scooters simply do not work as the machines can end up anywhere in the city.

‘This causes totally random potential barriers to access across city pavement and public space for disabled and elderly people and mothers with buggies.

‘At a time of social distancing when urgency has been placed by the Government on active travel, it is critical that all spare public space on the highway is protected for walking and cycling.

‘E-scooters will only take people away from active travel and those embracing walking and cycling will be faced with danger and chaos if e-scooters are legalised in the UK.’ 

There were 32 collisions involving e-scooters in 2019, including Emily Hartridge, who was the only fatality.

YouTube star and TV presenter Ms Hartridge became the first person in the UK to be killed while riding an e-scooter when she was struck by a lorry in Battersea, south London, in July last year.

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