Call for e-scooter ban 'before more loved ones lost'

E-scooters should be removed from the streets of the West Midlands before more people's lives "are shattered," a campaigner has said.

A rented e-scooter being ridden through Birmingham. Photo: Midlands Today
A rented e-scooter being ridden through Birmingham. Photo: Midlands Today

Sarah Gayton, street access campaigns coordinator for the National Federation of the Blind of the UK, has asked anyone thinking of riding or buying one "to think again” after incidents involving private and rented e-scooters.

The scooters can currently be hired in Birmingham, West Bromwich, and Coventry as part of a trial led by the region's transport authority.

There were five reports of serious injuries involving the orange rented scooters, which are banned from pavements, in the first six months of the West Midlands trial.

These scooters are intended for use in cycle lanes and roads but are not allowed on routes with a speed limit of above 30mph.

Privately-owned e-scooters are still banned on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements but are legally available to buy from the high street and are regularly seen across the region.

Shakur Pinnock, aged 20, died after being involved in a crash involving a car and the private e-scooter he was riding in Wolverhampton last week.

His girlfriend, 19-year-old Chante Hoosang, remains seriously injured in hospital.

Ms Gayton said the serious incidents were the "tip of the iceberg" and said both young and older people had suffered life-threatening injuries while riding e-scooters across the country.

WATCH: Rented e-scooters in Birmingham

“There is something inherently dangerous with the e-scooters and it is time to call an end to them before any further loss of life or serious injuries occur," she said.

“It is easy to close the rentable ones down, they just need to be switched off and never turned back on again.

“For the privately-owned ones, the law which makes them illegal to use on the highway should remain in place and not changed.

“What should change, is the legal loophole that allows private companies to sell them should be urgently closed.

“Companies selling them must understand that they are being used on the public highway which is illegal in the UK and their ability to sell these to the public should curtailed.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street with some of the rentable scooters

“I would urge anybody that is concerned about e-scooters being used on the streets, either private or rentable ones to contact their MP and demand the rentable e-scooters trials are halted, private e-scooters are not legalised and the legal loophole that allows shops to sell them is closed.

“If they are allowed to continue people’s live will be shattered and families lives torn apart with grief from losing loved ones from simply using an e-scooter.

“I would urge anybody who is thinking of riding or buying one to think again please.”

An email from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to Ms Gayton said there had been one serious injury recorded for around every 55,000 rides undertaken in Birmingham.

Shakur Pinnock died and his girlfriend Chante Hoosang, right, was seriously injured in a crash on a private e-scooter

E-scooter provider Voi was appointed partner for the West Midlands trials by Transport for West Midlands in September last year.

It provides scooters which are unlocked and used via an app that people can download on their phone.

The email from Mr Street, dated May 18, stated: “To date, over a quarter of a million individual rides have been undertaken in Birmingham with over 500,000 km ridden.

“During this period five incidents resulting in serious injury (defined by the DfT as any injury that results in an individual requiring professional medical attention) have been recorded.

“Only one incident involved injury to a third party, non-rider (a pedestrian who was struck by a scooter in late April).

“Again, whilst this is regrettable and clearly not to be dismissed, it is necessary to consider accident and injury rates in the context of the overall ridership figures.

Sarah Gayton of the National Federation of the Blind said this was an example of how e-scooters can be parked dangerously. Photo: Sarah Gayton

“In Birmingham, the data recorded to date indicates that one incident involving serious injury is recorded for every c.55,000 rides undertaken.

“Drawing clear conclusions from a comparison with alternative modes of transport is extremely difficult due to differences in the way that different datasets are recorded and reported.

“Perhaps the most reasonable direct comparison can be made with incident and injury rates associated with cycling however this isn’t straightforward with the data available.”

The email adds there had been no emergency hospital admissions involving Voi e-scooters in the West Midlands though there were four incidents involving Voi scooters elsewhere in the UK.

Ms Gayton said: “These serious injuries are just the tip of the iceberg, with both young and older people sustaining life-threatening injuries using private and rentable e-scooters [elsewhere in the UK] this week.

The trials in Birmingham and West Bromwich started in December, with the scooters only allowed in specific operational zones. In Birmingham the zone initially covered the city centre but was expanded to the north and south west.

A spokesman for Transport for West Midlands said: “As with any form of road transport, there have regretfully been a very small number of injuries within Birmingham’s e-scooter trial zone.

“This number is minimal compared to the more than 400,000 rides taken since the trial started, but nonetheless TfWM in partnership with Voi and Birmingham City Council takes safety extremely seriously.

“Any incidents reported are considered as part of an ongoing evaluation to see what more can be done to improve safety.

“This has been ongoing throughout the trial, with the scheme routinely modified to deal with issues as they have arisen throughout.

“The vast majority of people using e-scooters ride responsibly and within the guidelines set out by the operator Voi.”

Transport for West Midlands has been contacted for up-to-date figures on the number of injuries.

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