It’s been just over four weeks since a trial fleet of bright yellow electric scooters took to the streets (27 October). We take a look at what’s going well, what needs to be improved, and address some common myths about the scheme.
It’s worth remembering we are only at the start of a 12 month trial of a new form of transport. All the feedback is fantastic to help us and the operator – Wind Mobility – address emerging issues. E-scooters have the potential to offer a green, affordable, fun and easy way to travel short distances around the city, but we need to be sure they can work in practice.
How’s it going?
Let’s start with the positives:
- In the first month almost 3,000 people have registered to use the e-scooters, and around 19,000 rides have taken place
- The e-scooters have been ridden more than 38,000 miles, and for over 9,000 hours!
- And 150 key workers have already expressed an interest in the long-term hire scheme, which will be launched soon.
We’ve received really positive feedback about how easy the e-scooters are to hire and to ride.
Demand has been high and, while this is a positive, it has created some issues with availability at times, and vehicles needing batteries swapping more often than anticipated.
What are the issues?
The main emerging issues are:
- Inconsiderate parking, for example blocking pavements, causing a trip hazard, especially for people with visual impairments, and creating difficulties for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
- Illegal pavement riding
- Lost/stolen helmets
What’s being done?
We’re working closely with Wind Mobility to address issues as they crop up.
Parking – There are around 400 designated parking zones in the city, and riders can see where they are in the app. In all Wind Mobility’s guidance riders are instructed to park safely and with consideration for other road users within these zones. This means not obstructing a footpath, entrance, exit or bus stop, and avoiding parking outside someone’s house, driveway or garden.
We chose a dockless scheme because of the flexibility it offered – people can get closer to their destination. However, this relies on users parking correctly. Following feedback we appreciate this isn’t always happening and we’re constantly reviewing parking zones, both in terms of location and size.
We’re also planning to mark e-scooter bays in the most popular parking locations so it’s more clear to everyone where the e-scooters should be. Wind Mobility is also looking to make additional charges for unsafe parking.
Illegal pavement riding – E-scooters can be ridden anywhere cycles can and, as with cycles, riding on the pavement is illegal. If you see anyone riding on the pavement you can report them 24 hours a day by calling 0330 1 33 32 31 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Using GPS and registration details Wind Mobility will be able to suspend the user’s account. Wind Mobility is continuing to educate riders through the app and is also working with the police and Community Protection teams to identify offenders to suspend their accounts.
Helmets – We encourage everyone to wear a helmet when using an e-scooter, and Wind Mobility is working to make them available across the whole fleet. We know some helmets have disappeared, and Wind Mobility will make additional charges to users who don’t return the helmet with the e-scooter.
E-scooters not available or out of charge – The e-scooters are being heavily used and so are requiring more frequent battery swaps. Wind Mobility are out and about swapping batteries regularly. The e-scooters can be ridden for 40 miles between charges and, once a vehicle drops to 30 per cent charge or less, it won’t be available for hire.
Reports of more than one person riding on an e-scooter – Only one person should ride each e-scooter. Wind Mobility will act to suspend accounts where multiple riders are reported.
Vandalism – We’ve seen a few e-scooters vandalised in a way that appears people have tried to remove the battery cover to take the battery. The batteries are not compatible for use in any other vehicle or product so have no market value. They also all have unique markings and can be tracked by the police. Tampering with them could also cause injury. If you see anyone appearing to tamper with an e-scooter please let us know – you can report crime anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.
“This trial is a waste of money – the funding should have been spent on something else.”
This is a Department for Transport-led initiative that Nottingham City Council is participating in. We secured specific grant funding via the Future Transport Zone and Active Travel Fund, which is being spent on trialling e-scooters to support discounts for key workers. The City Council is not using any of its own funding. The majority of investment is coming from Wind Mobility in terms of supplying and maintaining the vehicles, employing a local team – including 16 new jobs in the sector – to help manage the trial, handle customer enquiries, repair and maintain the fleet, and replace batteries.
“I’m seeing e-scooters abandoned everywhere.”
In more than 80 per cent of abandoned e-scooter reports, the scooters have actually been left in designated parking zones. These zones are only visible to riders via the Wind Mobility app, and we’re working on reviewing the zones and making it clearer on-street that the vehicles can be left there. We’re also increasing our communications to educate users, including a ‘dos and don’ts’ video encouraging people to park e-scooters neatly and to be mindful of other road users, particularly people in wheelchairs, with prams and pushchairs, and people with visual impairments.
If a rider leaves an e-scooter outside one of these parking zones, they will continue to be charged for its use. We would encourage people to report e-scooters they believe have been abandoned or parked badly.
“These are dangerous for people with disabilities.”
Safety has been a key consideration planning the trial. The e-scooters make a noise to help make sure they can be heard, and are bright yellow to increase visibility. The rules governing their use are the same as for cycles so, when used correctly and parked safely, the e-scooters present no extra risk to people with disabilities. Both the council and Wind Mobility are continuing to talk to disability groups about areas of concern.
“The e-scooters are not cleaned regularly and will encourage the spread of Covid-19.”
Each e-scooter has been equipped with hand sanitiser, but we are aware some of the dispensers have been vandalised. These are in the process of being replaced. We would encourage riders to carry their own sanitiser – as many of us already do.
The e-scooters are cleaned daily and again every time they are redistributed or have their batteries swapped.
“Why are you relying on the public to report abandoned or misused e-scooters?”
Wind Mobility has the ability to locate every e-scooter using GPS, and checks the vehicles daily. If a member of the public makes a report it just enables them to act faster. In terms of e-scooters being misused, such as ridden on pavements, as with the majority of offences action can only be taken if seen and reported.