If you live in Cheltenham you can’t fail to have noticed the scooters all over town. They’re here as part of a trial being run in selected locations across the country until August 2021, before a decision on whether they should be legalised.
Last week I decided to meet the CEO of Zwings to find out how the Cheltenham trial is going, and also to make clear that there must be a robust approach to bad behaviour.
The first striking fact I learnt is that Cheltenham is seeing one of the highest usage rates in the country – much higher than Gloucester, another trial location. What the representative was less able to answer was how they are being used. Are people switching away from cars for short journeys? Or are people using them as an easy option when they might otherwise have walked? The jury is out it appears.
I also took the opportunity to press for data on the number of riders who have been banned. As a long-standing supporter of Guide Dogs, I am concerned about the impact of e-scooters on people with sight loss. The same applies to wheelchair users, those with limited mobility and parents with young children and pushchairs.
It seems that in May alone there were eight formal warnings, five fines, four suspensions, and three bans.
A word about the law. E-scooters should not be ridden on the pavement, and those not following the rules can face a fine and points on their licence. Cheltenham’s scooters are fitted with tracking technology, so that if you see someone breaking the rules and you have the time and location, Zwings will likely be able to identify the individual involved.
I was pleased too that following my meeting, Zwings have agreed to adopt a two-strike policy, rather than the standard three-strikes used in other cities and towns.
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