The government is running e-scooter trials which are currently taking place in around 30 areas across Great Britain, including the West Midlands.
The e-scooter trial was launched in 2020, after the Department for Transport announced that e-scooter trials would be allowed to take place across the country as part of a package of measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The trials, which began have been extended to run until 30 November 2022, haven't been without controversy, with many e-scooter accidents reported over the last year.
Provisional figures show that across Great Britain, the number of collisions involving e-scooters has more than doubled in a year, to 1,280 in 2021.
The new figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show the number of casualties also more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, to 1,359.
Nine people were killed in e-scooter collisions in 2021, compared to one in 2020.
What do the figures show in the West Midlands?
The provisional figures show the reported casualties in collisions involving e-scooters by police forces in 2021.
Across the West Midlands region, the number of collisions involving e-scooters has increased by more than 400%.
In the West Midlands, there were 63 reported casualties in collisions involving e-scooters in 2021 (which was 5% of all e-scooter casualties recorded in Great Britain), compared with just 12 reported collisions in 2020 - an increase of 425%.
Only Nottinghamshire Police force recorded more e-scooter casulaties in 2021, with 74.
What’s been said about e-scooter accidents?
Road safety expert Chris Berry, of the consulting service Midlands Road Safety Limited, says the figures are concerning.
Speaking to BirminghamWorld, he said: “The recent collision statistics for e-scooters across Birmingham and other areas of the UK are definitely a concern and undoubtedly, as with pedal cycle and any single vehicle collisions, the statistics are likely to not show the full picture.
“Even more worrying is that some of the injuries reported are closer to those sustained by motorcycle riders as opposed to cyclists, showing the higher speeds and lack of protection for riders.
“What is clear from the increasing numbers of e-scooters across the UK is that the presence of e-scooters on our roads, and their legalisation is an inevitability. Whilst there are significant safety concerns the potential benefits of e-scooters, in terms of social mobility, especially against a background of increasing costs of living and fuel prices, cannot be discounted.
“What we need to see, and see soon, is legislation detailing the standards to which e-scooters need to be manufactured, where and when they can be used and who can use them. At present many privately sold e-scooters are not fit for use on the roads and our network is not suitable for them.
“Hopefully this legislation arrives sooner rather than later. I hope that the above is along the lines of what you were looking for.”
The DfT figures follow a survey from National Accident Helpline in March, which reported that more than half of those living in the West Midlands strongly believe e-scooters are not safe on public roads and cause traffic accidents.
Although, the research from NAH also shows that consumers would be encouraged to use e-scooters if more safety regulations were introduced.
Simon Stanfield, Partner and Head of Road Accident Claims at Simpson Millar ,said: “With the rise in e-scooters on UK roads, unfortunately there are more opportunities for accidents and personal injury.
“Small wheels, lack of mirrors or indicators, and how quiet e-scooters are when running can all contribute to potential incidents. And with no seatbelt, windscreen and just one brake, accidents could lead to serious injuries.”
E-scooter company Voi has also expanded its trial across Birmingham to the suburban neighbourhoods across the city.
This means riders can now travel across the city to and from Bordesley Green, Handsworth, Harborne, Bournville, Saltley and Small Heath, as well as Moseley (the old area only covered a small part of Moseley now this has been extended further) as well as Wake Green, King’s Heath, Balti Triangle and Rotton Park.
What do locals think about the extension?
BirminghamWorld also spoke with locals to ask their views on the trials being extended across the city (as seen in the video above).
George said: “It seems like quite a good idea, better than people using cars I’d say - but I think they can be quite dangerous sometimes as well.
“You see people get knocked off them as well.”
Zara added: “I think the only problem with them is we need to deal with the problems in the city of Birmingham, before putting them out wider.
“For example there’s no sort of speed control on these scooters in public areas, and a lot of people joy ride on them and that’s only in the city centre, so I think we need to tackle these kinds of problems first and make it safer for the rest of the public and the riders in general here.”
Mark said: “I think the scooters are very dangerous. You can’t hear them coming. I mean, they’ve made them like a bright orange, but you can’t… when they’re behind you, they’re going like about 30 miles an hour.
“And the amount of times people are getting clipped, it’s a lot easier to walk on the roads than it is to walk on the pavement.”
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