Birmingham’s e-scooter trial set to be extended until May 2024

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Here’s why the trial is being extended

The e-scooter trial in Birmingham is set to be extended until May 2024 as a report published this week notes only a small number of injuries by e-scooters.

A cabinet report by Birmingham city council noted the Labour-led local authority wished to extend the existing trial to November 2022. It comes after the Department for Transport extended the national trial until May 2024 to allow for the preparation of the legalisation of e-scooters.

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E-scooters in Birmingham were first approved by the council in June 2020. The trial commenced in September 2020, and was due to originally run until September 2021, but the government extended the national trial to March 2022.

The trials are set to be extendedThe trials are set to be extended
The trials are set to be extended | LDR

According to statistics within the cabinet papers, 1,500 e-scooters are operating in an 80km square area. Over 1,130,273 rides had been taken, covering over 2.2 million kilometres in the city.

Around 38 serious injuries and 372 minor injuries while using the e-scooters have been recorded in the city, of which the most serious injury was a “broken & dislocated shoulder”.

The council notes only one serious injury has been recorded involving anyone other than the rider.

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Councillor Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport, said: “A third of the journeys that are taken by e-scooters would otherwise have been done by private car, so that is a strong argument as far as I’m concerned.

“But there are significant issues, particularly for pedestrians and anyone with mobility issues and visually impaired or blind pedestrians. We as local councillors are getting casework and complaints about them just being left up, haphazardly on the pavement, so I think we need to set expectations around docking stations.

Councillor Clements added an “audible alert system” was discussed to prevent e-scooters mounting pavements, but it would not be in the future tendering process.

She added: “We need to listen to people’s concerns about e-scooters but accept that they are part of the the offer that we’re making, to give people options instead of using their car, and that’s the reason why it’s really important that the trial and error was extended during the Commonwealth Games period. I think they were very, very popular.”

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E-scooters were first introduced nationally in May 2020 by the government to help encourage more people to use alternatives to private cars, while capacity restrictions due to the pandemic were in place on public transport.

Since then, 32 areas across the country have commissioned trials, including the West Midlands, where the trial was launched in September 2020.

To accommodate the use of e-scooters, Birmingham city council have made changes to a number of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to allow e-scooter use. Changes were made to convert ‘cycle tracks’ to ‘cycle lanes’, and to amend various ‘pedestrian zones’ and bus only roads to allow e-scooters a similar use of lanes as cyclists.

While the changes to Birmingham’s roads are experimental, if the Department for Transport decides to legalise the use of e-scooters, the council note, “further permanent TRO changes will be required”.

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Birmingham Conservatives leader Robert Alden queried whether more Voi employees would get more frequent pickups of scooters that have been discarded on pavements.

He said: “When you go around the city, you often see them dumped in what would be dangerous places for buses and vehicles and locations.”

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham city council, said “enhanced conditions” would be added to the e-scooters in line with the retendered contracts.

The cabinet report was approved at Birmingham city council on September 6.

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