E-Scooters: The Pros and Cons

30th June 2021 Personal Injury

With some countries banning them altogether, while others (including the UK) roll out sharing schemes to encourage greener travel, we investigate just how safe and convenient e-scooters are.

In recent years, electric scooters, or e-scooters, have soared in popularity. Hailed as an environmentally friendly transport option, they’re often favoured for their ease of use and portability. However, there are a number of concerns surrounding e-scooters, namely the dangers associated with their use. 

Last year, the government began a 12-month trial of e-scooter rental schemes across the country, as part of a £2 billion plan to invest in greener travel, while also reducing the number of people using public transport to maintain social distancing.

Because hired e-scooters are classed as motor vehicles, they are subject to the same traffic rules as cars - and can be used on public roads and cycle lanes. They are not allowed on pavements or motorways. However, it’s illegal to use privately-owned electric scooters on public roads, paths and bike lanes. 

Despite this, the law regarding e-scooters can be easily misunderstood. Our recent survey highlighted this lack of knowledge around the rules of using e-scooters, with more than half of respondents (52%) admitting to not knowing the related law.

Here, we explore the pros and cons of using e-scooters. 

Pros:

They’re easy to ride and maintain

E-scooters feature a twist-and-go throttle mechanism, making them an easy option for anyone to ride. Unlike cars, you don’t need a driving licence to use one, so no lessons are needed. What’s more, servicing costs related to e-scooters are low, as their electric motors and batteries require little to no maintenance. 

There are plenty of charging stations 

As popularity surges, the number of electric charging stations across the UK is also increasing. There are now more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors available - a number that’s set to increase as users continue to multiply. 

Operating costs are low 

Compared to other vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, e-scooters are relatively cheap to operate. It’s also often cheaper to go by electric scooter than taking public transport, especially for shorter journeys.
There is little noise pollution associated with their use 

E-scooters are extremely quiet and, therefore, do not contribute to noise pollution in large towns and city centres. 
They do not emit any harmful gases during use

As they are electrical, e-scooters do not cause any damage to the environment during use, through emissions of any kind. 

Cons: 

They can be dangerous 

E-scooters are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 30mph and can be very dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced user. 

Accidents involving e-scooters have resulted in fatalities in numerous countries. The UK’s first death caused by an e-scooter was 35-year-old television presenter and YouTube personality Emily Hartridge, who died in a collision with a lorry in July 2019.

Due to their low noise level and speed, it can be extremely difficult for pedestrians to realise when an e-scooter is approaching them on a pavement. The Royal National Institute of Blind People has labelled them ‘a real and genuine threat to blind people’.

There is a lack of public knowledge surrounding e-scooters 

Our recent survey highlighted a real lack of knowledge around the rules of using e-scooters, with more than half of respondents (52%) admitting to not knowing the related law. More than a quarter (29%) think that a privately-owned e-scooter can be used in public and 16% think e-scooters can be used on the pavement. 

Recharge time

Recharging an e-scooter can be a lengthy process. Depending on the type of battery, it can take anywhere from six to 15 hours to fully charge from flat, and sometimes even longer. 

They have a relatively low running range 

This refers to the distance that the e-scooter will run on a single charge. Depending on the type of battery, users can expect a range of 15km to 80km. For this reason, they’re not well-suited for traveling long distances, unless there are charging points along your route. The range of the bike will also decrease with the life of the battery. 

They’re not as eco-friendly as you might think 

Although e-scooters are emission-free at the point of use, the process of manufacturing, moving and managing them results in greenhouse gas emissions, which increase if they have a short lifespan. Most e-scooters under a shared scheme will need to be collected, charged and redistributed regularly, often using fossil-fuelled vehicles. 

While electric scooters can be an efficient way to make short journeys, owners are hard-pushed to find a place to ride theirs without breaking the law - bringing into question their practicality. Despite their benefits, the dangers they pose to riders and pedestrians cannot be ignored. As sharing schemes are being rolled out across the country, it’s vital that the general public are made aware of the laws surrounding their use, to ensure accidents are minimised. 
 

 

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Richard Powell is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Personal Injury department

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