E-scooter trials given green light in Essex

Pilot trials of e-scooter travel in six locations across Essex have been given a green light to go ahead.

Essex County Council, working with Essex commercial partner Spin and district, borough and city councils and Essex Police, is leading on the electric scooter trials as part of its Safer, Greener, Healthier transport campaign.

With pilot approval from the Department of Transport now obtained, and final conversations with the six district, borough and city councils underway, the Essex trials should see Spin, a company owned by Ford, provide and manage an e-scooter rental system in defined areas of Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Clacton, Chelmsford and Colchester.

These trials will start small scale and be constantly evaluated before any expansion takes place. Essex County Council will have strong feedback channels and be monitoring and adjusting each pilot trial as time progresses. Essex Police will continue to enforce the law relating to the operation of e-scooters.

Chief inspector Emma Bullock, head of roads policing at Essex Police, said: “We’ve been working alongside Essex County Council on the forthcoming Spin e-scooter trials, which are set to take place across the county. It’s really important to emphasise that if you’re not hiring an e-scooter from Spin as part of the pilot and using it within the areas defined as part of the project, you’ll be breaking the law.

“If not part of this trial, using an e-scooter is still illegal other than on private land and we don’t want usually law-abiding citizens to inadvertently break the law. That said, we will take action against anyone not complying with the e-scooter regulations and that could mean seizing the e-scooter. We know e-scooters are popular gifts so we’re also urging retailers to make it clear to anyone buying an e-scooter that they can only be used legally on private land.

“If you are taking part in the trial, please take precautions to ensure your personal safety such as wearing a helmet.”

Only Spin scooters hired as part of this trial are legal on Essex roads. Current rules are that Spin e-scooters are legally allowed to go anywhere that bicycles are legally allowed to go. Bicycles and e-scooters are not allowed on pavements.

To legally ride a Spin e-scooter you must have a driving licence and relevant insurance. To hire a Spin scooter, you must be 18 and show your driving licence which will be verified by a third-party database. The act of hiring a Spin e-scooter provides you with insurance.

All users who hire a Spin e-scooter will be given thorough mandatory training before they can hire a scooter, including modules on responsible driving and disability awareness. Users cannot book a Spin e-scooter until this training is completed. Then e-scooters will be bookable through a web app provided by Spin.

Each trial has been co-designed with district, borough and city councils, which will support the unique travel needs of each town. E-scooters will provide a controlled way to assess the popularity, safety and impact upon travel and the environment in these towns. ‘Geofencing’ technology will be used to stop e-scooters being used in areas where they are not permitted. Scooters can operate at a maximum of 15.5 mph and geofencing will be used to create ‘go slow’ and ‘no go’ areas.

Lord Randall, chair of the Essex Climate Action Commission, said: “The commission has agreed we must take action now to reduce our carbon footprint in Essex. With almost a third of greenhouse gases coming from transport, we need to take a serious look at how we are moving about the county and how we can make our transport more sustainable.

“Any idea which may reveal itself to be a valid contribution to reducing greenhouse gases has my attention, we can’t rule anything out. That’s why a trial of e-scooters was one of the Commission’s recommendations in its recent interim report. I welcome these e-scooter trials and am glad to see that the safety of e-scooter users, as well as other road users and pedestrians, is of paramount importance. I’m very curious to discover if e-scooters are a sustainable way to move around Essex towns and cities and I will be watching these trials with great interest.”

Councillor Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council and cabinet member for infrastructure, added: “We are in the first wave nationally to safely introduce this innovative service to people in Essex. This is another option for residents, workers and anyone interested in getting around locally in the trial areas, to reconsider how they could travel more sustainably, removing congestion from our local streets and doing so in a way that will improve air quality.

“We will intensively monitor each location’s scheme with Spin, looking particularly closely at safety and environmental issues and will continue to work alongside Essex Police to ensure the e-scooters are used safely and legally. I am hopeful it will prove to be a great success, but we will not hesitate to pause any scheme if we identify significant problems – that is the point of having a trial. I hope many people will try out the Spin scooters.”

Steve Pyer, Spin’s UK country manager, said: “We are thrilled to provide the communities of Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Clacton, Chelmsford and Colchester with a safe, accessible and modern new method of transport. Our e-scooters enable people to move more freely via a more socially distanced and greener alternative to cars and other forms of public transport. We are looking forward to partnering with each local council to bring our scooters to local streets within the coming weeks.”

The trials will be for a maximum of one year once the schemes are running and will be regularly reviewed. An email address has been set up for the general public to give their views on the Spin e-scooter trail. If you have a view or wish to make a point about the Spin e-scooter trails send an email to escootertrials@essex.gov.uk.

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