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Bid submitted for Norwich to trial rental of 100 e-scooters

PUBLISHED: 05:30 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:50 17 August 2020

A bid has been lodged to trial rental e-scooters in Norwich. Picture: Getty Images

A bid has been lodged to trial rental e-scooters in Norwich. Picture: Getty Images

Archant

People in Norwich could be able to hire from a fleet of a hundred e-scooters within weeks - if a bid to government for the city to trial the machines is accepted.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Simon Parkin

The Department for Transport is fast tracking trials of rental e-scooters for local authorities and Norfolk County Council has said it is ready to run a test for 12 months.

If given the green light, it would see the council join forces with Beryl, which already provides cycle and e-bike rentals in Norwich via a mobile phone app, to offer an initial 100 scooters to hire.

Beryl would cover the cost of the scheme, including appropriate insurance, with the government expecting cities which carry out trials to be in a position to begin them by the end of August.

At the moment, it is illegal to use an e-scooter on public land. That would remain the case for private owners, but rental e-scooters could be used on roads and cycle lanes, although not on pavements or shared spaces.

Riders would need to have driving licences, speed limits would be set at 12mph, but restricted where lower speeds are deemed appropriate.

The scooters would also have to be left in designated drop-off/pick-up areas and failure to do so would result in a penalty payment.

Discussions have been held with the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, Norfolk police and the Norwich Cycle Campaign over the potential introduction of the e-scooters.

Questions were raised around the interaction between e-scooters with pedestrians and cyclists and, as a result, it has been agreed the scooters will make sounds to warn people they are close by.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said he hoped the government would allow the Norwich trial to take place.

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He said: “I am really pleased that we are bidding for these e-scooter trials in the city. The city is an ideal place for people to use them.

“We have a really good relationship already with Beryl, following the successful roll out of their rental cycles and e-bikes.”

County Hall has told the government it is also talking to councils in Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn and may make further applications for trials there, following discussions with e-scooter providers.

Controversy over e-scooters

The government has fast-tracked trials of e-scooters to give people an extra travel choice amid coronavirus social distancing.

But e-scooters have attracted controversy. One of the first trials, in Middlesbrough, started in July, but it prompted complaints after two teenagers were caught riding them on the busy A19.

However, the company behind that scheme say they had made changes and put in extra checks.

While the government is keen to get people renting them, it otherwise remains illegal to use an e-scooter anywhere other than private land.

And the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety fears allowing rental e-scooters will “let the genie out of the bottle” - so e-scooter owners will think it will be legal for them to use them in public.

They fear the scooters can be a hazard to pedestrians and, unlike cycling and walking, do not bring health benefits.


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