If you look around the streets of London, you'll see the many methods people use to move around. Whether it's on a commute to work, a trip to the shops, or a sightseeing excursion, there are people on buses, the Tube, cars, motorbikes, bicycles and even roller skates. The roads are already congested; and now there's a new addition: electric, or 'e-scooters'.
This traditional children's vehicle has become more sophisticated over the years. And now, with the addition of a small electric motor, it's become a cheap and easy mode of transport. Scooting around town can be fun and doesn't involve much effort, so it's no wonder they're becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. But following what's believed to be the first fatal accident involving an electric scooter in the UK, questions are being asked about their safety and whether traffic laws should be changed.
Some scooter riders have been seen on pavements; others on the road jumping redtraffic lights, adding to the frustration of motorists stuck in jams. In the UK, the law states that riding one on the public highway or pavement is forbidden. Riders currently face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence for doing so. But, despite this, it seems the increasing popularity of e-scooters means they can be seen everywhere. And now users are calling on regulations to be changed.
The UK government is looking at how safely they can be used on the road and is ‘reviewing’ the law. But its transport minister, Michael Ellis, has told the BBC that: "Micromobility products are appearing in countries across the globe and are an exciting innovation for which we know there is demand. However, safety must always be our top priority when considering their use on public highways in this country.”
There's no doubt there are dangers in riding a two-wheeled scooter. Despite the fact that some of them can exceed 30mph, they sometimes only have one brake and no lights. They also become unstable if the rider hits a pothole, and however confident the rider may be, larger vehicles on the road make them vulnerable. So it seems more work needs to be done to give e-scooters a safe and legal space to travel in.
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