BBC Today presenter Justin Webb has had a go on Bristol’s fleet of e-scooters – but admitted he didn’t feel entirely safe. The radio veteran took a ride during a trip to the city yesterday (Thursday, April 29) and had his say in a report that aired on the show this morning.
Speaking on the Radio 4 segment today, he said: “They are absolutely everywhere here, it’s extraordinary, they’re up by the side of the roads, some of them are on pavements just in the middle of nowhere because people can pick them up and drop them where they want to.
“It is really amazing and of course it is hugely, hugely convenient for the people of the city who are dodging around…it’s a really common form of transport. It’s fair to say, generally speaking, with younger people more than older.
“Someone’s just passed me with a knapsack on going very determinedly in the other direction. The cars are mingling with us – it doesn’t, to be perfectly honest, feel completely safe to me but I suppose once you’re used to it it feels better.
“They [Voi, the e-scooter operator] advise you to wear helmets to hire out these scooters at the moment, and I can say I’ve seen I think eight or nine [other riders] so far and nobody is.”
Private e-scooters could soon be legal to ride on public roads, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated. According to PA, the Cabinet minister said legislation will be included in the Queen’s Speech on May 10.
Despite people often been seen riding around on private e-scooters in Bristol, their use is still illegal on public roads and pavements. Only the Voi fleet, running as part of a trial, are permitted for use currently.
Speaking on Today this morning, West of England metro mayor Dan Norris, who oversees transport in the region, agreed that steep hills in the city were probably part of the reason for their popularity. He added: “You see quite a lot of private scooters that are already illegal on our roads already.
“We have this incredible trial, that’s the most successful in England… we reckon there will be 4 million journeys made this year. There’s an awful lot of private scooters that are also out there – it’s very hard for the police to enforce because there are so many.
“I suspect they will be popular, not least because they go a bit faster [than the Voi scooters]. The trial ones are restricted at 15 and a half miles per hour and the private ones can go up to 50mph.
“I’ll be very interested to see what the Government are proposing, because in legalising them they are going to have to make sure there are strict controls.” He said the speed should be around 15mph for private scooters too, or at least “certainly not 50mph”.
‘More risky’ than bikes says mayor
Justin Webb added: “When you’re on them, it feels fast. And if you fall off, it is fast – and dangerous.” Mr Norris responded: “They are definitely less stable than a push bike, without a doubt.
“If you let go of the handles, you’ll topple over on an e-scooter, whereas if you let go of your bicycle handles, they tend to centre themselves. They are more inherently risky.
“Most injuries I think are people just falling off rather than colliding. About a quarter of injuries sustained when people do fall off and go to hospital are head injuries, so they can be quite dangerous.”
He said this means people need to wear helmets, and the Government should make helmets a requirement of use if private e-scooters are legalised. Only on Wednesday, an e-scooter rider in Bristol was taken to hospital after a collision with a cyclist.
Asked by his co-host Martha Kearney if he would be investing in an e-scooter in London if they are made legal, Justin added: “Not one tiny bit, frankly.”
What do you think about e-scooters – should they be legalised? Let us know in the comments section below