Welcome to Essex

E-scooter trials - Questions and answers

Q1: Where are these trials of legal e-scooters taking place?

A: The trials will take place in defined areas of Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Clacton-on-Sea, Chelmsford and Colchester but the service areas are still being finalised.

Q2: When are people likely to be able to hire these scooters?

A: We anticipate that the trial in Basildon will commence in December 2020 with other areas to follow in the new year.

Q3: Why are you offering people in Essex the chance to try hire e-scooters ahead of most of the UK?

A: Essex is growing fast in population, homes and the number of people using our roads. If we don’t quickly find alternatives to some local journeys currently made in cars, we will have serious issues with congestion and pollution. Essex wants to be a leader in more sustainable, safe travel and transport for the potential jobs that will bring to the county but above all for the health and safety and efficient travel of our residents - part of our Safer, Greener, Healthier work. The e-scooter trials are designed in partnership with city, borough and district councils in Essex.

Q4: Why e-scooters, not more bikes or e-bikes or walking or better public transport?

A: E-scooters can be quickly introduced, don’t impact on facilities for other travel or transport, can be rapidly rolled out across the county if trials are successful and have proved attractive for local travel across the world. They are an alternative to bicycles for those who want quick and easy, flexible on/off hire and our short-term schemes have no ownership, storage or security obligations.

Q5: Surely e-scooters are illegal in England at the moment?

A: The Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) has made orders that only the designated hire scooters are legal for the trial period and in the trial areas. Trials are currently being run across the country in various locations and we anticipate that Essex will join this list in December 2020. Any e-scooters used anywhere other than the trial areas remain illegal (unless used on private land).

Q6: What is the aim of these trials, and of possibly introducing e-scooters more generally?

A: E-scooter hire may prove to be a tempting alternative for commuters who no longer want to use their car for getting to the local station, say, or for workers who live quite close to their workplace for whom car-parking is a problem. ‘Park and Scoot’ options are being considered, to encourage scheme uptake.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet portfolio holder for Transport, says that it is important to offer convenient, affordable choices to people as an alternative to using their car and e-scooters may prove a useful part of the mix of Safer, Greener and Healthier travel choices.

In Milton Keynes, the Spin’s e-scooter trial has suggested that 63% of e-scooter users had switched from car use. The trials are supported in principle by the Essex Climate Change Commission.

Q7: I’ve seen lots of young people using e-scooters on roads and pavements in lots of places in Essex, why don’t you stop them if scooters are illegal?

A: Enforcement is a matter ultimately for Essex Police, who are supporting these trials. The e-scooter leasing company, Spin, is working hard to ensure that their e-scooters can only be used correctly in the designated areas.

Q8: How much does it cost to hire a scooter and how can I hire one?

A: For short term hires Spin does not charge an unlock fee but a simple 0.20p per minute fee. An average journey of around 12 minutes will cost £2.40. Spin will also be introducing commuter passes and free rides for NHS workers. You must register with the scheme via the app and then provide a valid driving licence. This will be followed by details on safe riding, in app training and a safety test.

Q9: Can anyone hire a scooter once they are ready to go?

A: E-scooters are classed as motor vehicles. That means you must be 18 or over, have a driving licence (including holding a provisional licence) and be insured to drive them. Insurance is included in the Spin e-scooter hire fee. You must download the free Spin app, complete the in app training and add a payment card. Once a user has unlocked a scooter they will be insured to ride for the duration of their journey. Only the person who has unlocked the scooter is allowed to ride.

Q10: Are you giving free helmets to all users?

A: Although helmets will not be a legal requirement for the trial, Spin always recommends users wear a helmet.  Spin will be doing helmet giveaways to users at launch and throughout the scheme. Users taking part in the longer term trial will receive a helmet with their scooter on collection.

Q11: What will decide if these trials are successful?

A: Government will take the final decisions on the results of the trials and as to whether e-scooters can be legalised for wider use, but criteria will include how many people use them, safe use and benefits in replacing car journeys.

Q12: When do the Essex trials finish and what happens next?

A: These trials are due to conclude after a maximum of one year, following which the Government will evaluate them using reports from Essex County Council and other authorities who are trialling them. The schemes will be regularly reviewed.

Data gathered from Spin users will improve our understanding of how many people adopt the e-scooters to get around, where they are used and the impact they have on existing traffic patterns, as well as any environmental, safety and enforcement impacts. It may be then that a wider roll-out of legal hire e-scooters takes place in the UK.

Q13: How can I tell the difference between a legal hire scooter and one that is illegal and might be reported to police?

A: Spin legal hire scooters will be brightly coloured orange and so look very different from typical illegal (when used on public roads or pavements) private scooters which are often grey or black. Legal scooters will have logos on, visible at closer inspection.

Q14: How safe are these scooters if I’m an older person walking along the road to be confronted with them?

A: These scooters must not be ridden on the pavement (unless it is already a shared use cycleway with pedestrians). E-scooters are classed as motor vehicles, so police can enforce against people riding on the pavement, just as they can if a car drives on the pavement. Scooters are fitted with bells and lights to warn pedestrians, if necessary, of their approach. Pedestrians always have right of way and the training required for people registering with the scheme will remind driving-licence holders of that. Spin e-scooters have a maximum speed of 15.5 mph.

Q15: Can these e-scooters be ridden on all roads and all cycleways, including where they are “shared space”, that is not segregated from pedestrian-use pavements?

A: You can ride a hire e-scooter on almost any road, within the trial areas, which is up to and including a 30mph limit and on any designated cycleway, including shared use.  There will be a small number of no-ride zones in high-footfall and very busy areas, such as near shopping centres where you will not be able to ride the e-scooter to ensure other road users’ safety. Always check ahead of your journey in the app where these zones are.

Q16: What is to stop me just riding my hired scooter where I like, out of town, on a race-track on my own land, anywhere where it will could cause a nuisance?

A: Scooters will be “geo-fenced” using GPS satellite technology so that the motor will not work outside the designated, legal trial areas.

Q17: How do you prevent hazards like people riding these scooters on pavements, ignoring traffic regulations on the road like riding the wrong way up a one-way street, just leaving the scooter in the middle of pavements as trip hazards or simply abandoning them when they have run out of charge or time hired?

A: People hiring these scooters must be adults with a driving licence. The rider can then be traced if they do ride or otherwise behave dangerously with the e-scooter. Drivers and riders of all sorts of vehicles currently must drive safely and e-scooters are no different. Anyone abandoning their e-scooter in a dangerous place could be prosecuted and certainly have their membership of the scheme suspended.

Q18: Why are you introducing this complex scheme when bicycles, including e-bikes and hire bikes are proving very successful, not least in hire schemes in cities?

A: Bicycles don’t suit everyone. Not everyone who needs to travel short distances can walk quickly or has the physical ability to cycle. Bikes, even some e-bikes, need significant effort to go uphill and it may not be suitable for everyone to arrive at their destination having, for example, sweated while cycling, inside heavy winter or rain clothes.

Q19: Which laws apply to e-scooters?

A: Traffic Act 1988; Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999; Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016; and Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

Q20: Who are Spin, what is their role and why are they involved?

A: Spin, like several other companies, is a provider approved by the Department for Transport (DfT). Only approved providers can deliver a scheme.

To become an approved supplier requires meeting safety specifications around speed, lighting, power, weight, where they can be driven etc. Spin will operationally manage, deliver and promote the Essex trials, taking responsibility for bookings, payment, customer obligations and service, as well as providing the scooters and related maintenance,  recovery and redistribution where needed. Spin is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company.