This matter is the responsibility of the Executive Member for Climate Change.
Report Author: Sue Tomlinson, Programme Manager for Climate Change.
The escooter trial in Somerset West and Taunton is an approved scheme which forms part of the Department for Transport escooter trials, launched in July 2020.
The Department for Transport is collecting data from all trial areas and this data will inform decision making regarding any new legislation.
The Somerset West and Taunton trial went live 30 October 2020 in Taunton and 5 June 2021 in Minehead. All trials are due to end 30 November 2022.
This report provides an update on the scheme based on questions raised by the Community Scrutiny Committee.
The Portfolio Holder introduced the report and raised the following points:
· E-scooters had become increasingly familiar to everyone over the past few years and were often a topic of discussion.
· The report contained a significant amount of data on the progress of the e-scooter trial in Somerset West and Taunton.
The Programme Manager for Climate Change delivered a presentation:
· There was an incident last week involving a collision between an e-scooter and a female pedestrian in Taunton which resulted in the police being called and the female pedestrian being taken to hospital. The report was submitted prior to that incident.
· The report was for information only to provide an update on the e-scooter trial.
· In July 2020 the Department for Transport brought forward their e-scooter trials as part of initiatives to support a green travel restart during the Covid-19 pandemic. Usage data was being collected during the trials, which 31 local authorities are participating in. The data collected would help to inform decisions around whether e-scooters would be legalised in future.
· Somerset West and Taunton’s trial began in October 2020 in Taunton and in Minehead in June 2021. All trials around the country would end on 30 November 2022.
· The trial scheme was managed by Zipp on behalf of the council.
· The e-scooters were tracked by GPS and geo-fenced so that they would not work outside of a certain area. There were also no-go zones where the scooters would not work and slow zones where the speed of scooters were limited to 8mph. Outside of slow zones the e-scooters were limited to 15.5mph.
· The trial to date had been very successful. There were 12,364 users in Taunton and 7506 in Minehead. There had been 92,618 rides in Taunton and 19,550 rides in Minehead.
· People aged between 21 and 30 rode the e-scooters the most, followed by the age bracket of 16-20.
· Although the legal age fore riding an e-scooter was 16 there were very few 16-year-olds registered to use the e-scooters.
· Operating hours were from 05:00am to 10:30pm. 74% of rides occurred during daylight hours.
· 14.4 tonnes of carbon savings were estimated to have been achieved in Taunton and 1.4 tonnes of carbon savings in Minehead based on journeys on e-scooters where users had specified that if they had not used an e-scooter they would have driven.
· The trial started in Taunton with 25 e-scooters, now had 100 e-scooters in Taunton and the trial started with 15 in Minehead and now had 50.
· E-scooters had registration numbers on them so they could be identified by the public. Each e-scooter also had a safety sticker and there were safety notices on lampposts.
· There had been a number of reports to the police regarding e-scooters, some about e-scooters which were privately owned and some Zipp owned e-scooters. Most reports to the police are not about misbehaviour or misuse but are incidental or calls relating to people stealing or damaging parts of the e-scooters.
· Some users had been banned from using the e-scooters by Zipp due to misuse. In Taunton 43 final warnings had been issued, in Minehead there had been 25. Eight people had been banned in Taunton and one in Minehead.
· Regarding the incident involving the collision between a Zipp e-scooter and a female pedestrian last week there was only one e-scooter involved. The pedestrian did not lose consciousness. Zipp provided the information needed to the police to identify the rider and the police commended them on their response.
· The Queen’s Speech on 10th May 2022 announced the government’s intention to bring forth a Transport Bill which would include detail on e-scooters however, no decisions had been made yet on the future of e-scooters.
During the debate the following points were raised:
· Officers were thanked for their presentation.
· It was asked how to make a complaint regarding an incident witnessed involving e-scooter use. Officers responded that if the incident was dangerous the police should be contacted but if it was a less severe complaint then the Council could be contacted.
· It was suggested that it should be made clearer to the public about how to report concerns. Officers responded that there was also information on the website on how to report concerns.
· Thanks were offered to Zipp as they always took complaints seriously and responded quickly and were a good and responsible operator.
· Concerns were raised about issues with individual riders not behaving appropriately, for example by riding on pavements. It was noted that it was good to see that some riders had been banned and others had received warnings and that Zipp were seeking to enforce the rules.
· It was asked if there had been a shift of behaviour on any particular routes in terms of stopping car usage. Officers responded that 15% of people said the journey they had made on an e-scooter would have otherwise been made in a car.
· It was raised that there was a large difference between the carbon savings in Taunton and Minehead. The Zipp representative responded that there was less carbon emissions saved through the Minehead scheme as there was more usage by tourists in Minehead and therefore usage was not replacing a car journey. The trial was also smaller and had been running for less time.
· Support was expressed for the scheme. It was asked what the warnings issued to users tended to be for. Officers responded that it was most commonly riding e-scooters on the pavement and having more than one person on an e-scooter.
· It was asked if there was a record of injuries obtained from e-scooter usage. The Zipp representative responded that there had been six incidents which had gone through Zipps insurers regarding injuries on e-scooter in Taunton and one in Minehead. None of these had so far resulted in a claim.
· It was asked if e-scooter usage fell within the Road Traffic Act. Officers responded that this was the case.
· It was asked how it was checked if users had a valid driving licence. Officers responded users had to take an image of their driving license and their license was verified. The Zipp representative added that a photo of the user's face was also used to verify their driving licence belonged to them.
· Concerns were raised about users riding e-scooters on the road and safety, particularly if e-scooter use was made legal following the schemes ending in November. Officers responded that the government would hold a public consultation before changing the law.
· It was asked what happened if someone was part way through a journey at 10:30pm. Officers responded that users would be allowed to complete their journey if they had already started it.
· It was raised that some issues being discussed were less about e-scooters and more about people thinking about safe behaviour on highways and roads.
· It was raised that better infrastructure was needed for cyclists and e-scooter users.
· It was suggested that e-scooters were safer than some other forms of transport on Britain’s roads and that research from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents supported this.
· It was asked why there were not parking bays at some of the polar points of the geo fencing. It was responded by officers that the Council needed to know who owned the land to allocate a parking bay there and that the parking bay had to meet certain standards. However, members of the public could request new bays.
· It was asked how the number of e-scooters at different places at peak times was managed. The Zipp representative responded that e-scooters could be collected and moved around to a new location by the Zipp team when needed.
· It was asked what the lifetime of e-scooters was. The Zipp representative responded that e-scooters were retired from the fleet after two or three years.
· It was raised that on behalf of blind, partially sighted, deaf and elderly people something needed to be done to ensure riders did not use the pavement. Officers raised that they did meet with disability groups regularly. In some places scooters which made a noise were being trialled. The Department for Transport was also considering the impact of e-scooters for those with disabilities. The Zipp representative responded that lasers to highlight to anyone who was deaf that an e-scooter was approaching from behind were also being explored.
· It was asked if no go zones could be extended to footpaths. The Zipp representative responded that at present GPS technology was not accurate enough to allow for this however, new technologies would be considered as they emerged.
· It was asked what happened when an e-scooter was ridden into a no-go zone. It was responded by officers that the e-scooter would gradually come to a halt.
· It was asked what happened if an e-scooter ran out of battery on a journey. It was responded by the Zipp representative that e-scooters could not be hired if their battery was below 30% and most often e-scooters would have their battery changed if it dipped below 50%.
· It was asked if a credit card which did not match the name on the driving license could be used to pay for an e-scooter journey. Zipp responded that the card name and license name was not required to match.
· It was asked how often the Zipp team had to recover e-scooters which had to be recovered after they had been left in locations other than parking bays. The Zipp representative responded that journeys had to be ended at bays. If e-scooters were left elsewhere the users would continue to be charged until the Zipp team identified this had happened. This occurred a few times a week.
· It was suggested that more communication on safety was needed to users of e-scooters. It was raised that having notifications appear on safety in the app when it starts up may help to raise awareness of safety. Officers acknowledged the comments received regarding communications about e-scooters and that they would look into what more could be done around communications. The Zipp representative responded that users had to complete a compulsory induction via the app on safety before they first used the scooters. Messages around safety were also located by parking bays and posted on social media.
· Concerns were raised about the lights on e-scooters not being bright enough in the dark for them to be easily seen. The Zipp representative responded that the e-scooters were tested and met Department for Transport standards including for the brightness of lights. Lights were checked regularly.
· It was asked what feedback was received from customers who used the e-scooters. The Zipp representative responded that users were asked to score their experience after each ride and could contact customer services through the app or email.
· It was asked how many locations Zipp operated in. The Zipp representative responded that they also worked with Buckinghamshire Council. Zipp also had services in Ireland and Poland.
· The Chair thanked the Growth and Governance Affairs Manager from Zipp, the Programme Manager for Climate Change and the Project Officer for Climate Change.