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Climate Change National Politics Personal Blog Travel and Transport

Redditch e-Scooters answers to FAQs

As Deputy Leader of Redditch Borough Council please allow me to answer some of the frequently asked questions about the e-scooter trial and hopefully address some of the concerns some people might have.

Why don’t they cover the whole town?

The zone is restricted as part of the trial. The council and the Department for Transport needs to be able to measure success and observe the differences between areas that have e-scooters and those that do not. For instance, do the number of car journeys decrease as we expect them to?

How much do they cost?

It’s £1 to unlock the scooter and £0.15 per minute afterwards. They’re not designed for long-distance journeys – just those that a touch too long to walk. You know the ones – where you think “ah I’ll just jump in the car”. We all do it, and that’s what these devices are designed to help with.

Are they insured?

Yes, as part of the DFT-approved trial they are insured when hired. Click here for full guidance for riders from the DFT.

I’ve seen an e-scooter just dumped somewhere – aren’t they supposed to be parked in racks?

No. They’re supposed to be left in a safe and convenient position once finished with. When the rider finishes with the e-scooter they have to press ‘End Ride’ on the Bird app. Until they do this they’re being charged. Before they can ‘End Ride’ they have to take a photo of the e-scooter parked up properly to prove they’re parking appropriately. If the photo shows they haven’t parked properly the account is suspended.

This is a far greater set of controls than for people parking cars on the pavement for instance, and of course cyclists don’t have to take a photo every time they park either.

I’ve seen one blocking the pavement entirely – how are they able to do this?

I’ve seen cars blocking pavements entirely too – including parking over dropped kerbs. However, two wrongs don’t make a right and e-scooters should not be blocking pavements. As covered in the above answer there is a process the riders have to follow when finishing their ride that prevents this.

However, it’s also the case that some people are deliberately pulling the e-scooters over to block the pavement. Sometimes this is out of boredom and mischief, but sometimes it’s also because some people are against the e-scooters in general and want to undermine the scheme. Photos have been posted to social media that show e-scooters across pavements, but witnesses have reported the photos being staged.

Regardless of how they end up blocking the pavement they should not do so – please report any incidences to redditch@bird.co and they’ll come and collect the e-scooters. You can also make a report to the council. Officers are monitoring the situation closely and working hard to identify when the e-scooter has been sabotaged or when it was left across a pavement by a rider. If they find it was left there by a rider the account is suspended.

Can the scooters venture outside the zone?

They should not work outside the defined zone. Geo-fencing means as soon as the onboard GPS tracker detects the e-scooter is not where it should be the device will cut out completely. I’ve tested this myself and can confirm it does work – with an audio beep to confirm when you’re leaving the zone followed by a near-immediate loss of power.

Can the scooters be ridden through the town centre?

Yes – in some parts. Though the scooters are not legal for use on pavements they are legal for use on designated cycleways and cyclepaths. These do run through the town centre along the ‘yellow road’ that goes past the estate agents and down to the Palace Theatre.

There is also a designated cycleway through the market and past the library on onwards to the Palace Theatre.

Map showing designated highways areas through the town centre.
The areas highlighted in yellow show the routes are actually designated for Highways through Redditch Town Centre – meaning you can take a cycle or e-scooter along these routes. However, you should not take the e-scooters into the churchyard without the owner’s permission.

However, speeds are limited to no more than 7mph in these spaces.

Are they being cleaned between use?

They’re not being cleaned except when called in for recharging. That’s on users to do with a common sense approach. Worth noting the virus does not survive on these kinds of surfaces in an outdoor setting for long.

How many are there available?

There’s 200 available for the town as a whole but not all are deployed all the time. They deploy as the market demands.

Can they be stolen and tampered with?

There’s certainly scope for abuse as with anything and we’ve got to balance the risks overall. It’s a 12 month trial and ultimately if there’s too many issues we’ll just have to pull the plug. They are very difficult to steal, damage or vandalise but that’s basically on the operator (Bird) and they have insurance in place for that as well as various counter-measures. For instance they’re all GPS tracked and very difficult to steal or damage.

Can children ride them?

No, but there are two circumstances I can think of where children might be able to obtain a free ride.

  • If a parent or other adult sets up the app for them on their phone, using their card details and driving licence. This would be extremely stupid however as there’s no way to stop the child wasting all of your money on e-scooters and it would also be illegal and subject to action by the police against the parents.
  • If a rider forgets to ‘End Ride’ on the app and just walks away from the Bird scooter. Again, that’s pretty stupid as you will continue to be charged and you’ll be held responsible for any mishaps that happen as a result of your account usage.

When will the trial end?

30 September 2021. Before this date the council will agree whether or not to extend the trial, roll-out to the full town or terminate the scheme.

Why are people against the scheme?

Some people believe the scooters might injure them for instance, however it’s important to note they’re not legal for riding on the pavement.

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Personal Blog

Increased parks usage across Redditch

Visits to parks across Redditch surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and remain currently at 51% higher than usual.

Whilst I welcome the increased usage of our fantastic parks it’s a situation that also comes with challenges.

There’s more litter for starters and we need to empty bins more often. Footfall might be up, but the staffing budget isn’t.

We’re also seeing increased car parking demand, resulting in overflow to nearby businesses and people parking on the grass verges, which also cost money to our right.

We’re getting reports of anti-social behaviour, even camping, which is currently prohibited.

I want to assure all residents that as the council’s portfolio holder for parks I am monitoring the situation closely and liaise regularly with officers. We are working on a number of things that we hope will help, and I look forward to sharing more details in due course.

If you are interested in getting more involved with parks and open spaces across Redditch as a volunteer please email me on mike.rouse@redditchbc.gov.uk

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National Politics Personal Blog

Welcoming the suspension of the ‘get back to work’ campaign

I welcome the postponement of the ‘get back to work’ campaign the government was looking to launch, which sought to encourage workers back into the cities. The news comes as research reveals as many as 4 in 10 people who used to drive into work are still working from home. Amongst senior management that figure is even higher.

But 4 in 10 is still very significant, and poses a risk to cities. Not just to coffee shops, sandwich bars, and dry cleaners, but to the much bigger issue of real estate – if there’s fewer people in the office does the company need to pay for such premium city centre offices at all?

We also have to ask about the impact on the transport sector – with train passenger levels at 28% of pre-lockdown levels. It’s a similar story for buses. What is the knock-on effect of less revenue for the train operating companies?

Whilst I recognise the risk to cities, I also recognise the opportunities for towns like Redditch. The government said, just before lockdown, that it wanted to “level up” towns like Redditch. COVID-19 may well have helped to achieve this.

In a letter to our town’s MP I pointed out the increased usage of our parks and open spaces, but our amenities have seen increased usage too as people heed the message to ‘shop local’.

A lot of people commute from Redditch into Birmingham every day – or used to. They’re now staying in Redditch, spending their money here and demanding more amenities.

As conservatives we believe in market solutions – and the market is certainly adapting to the “new normal” here.

Here’s a copy of my letter to Rachel Maclean MP on the topic.

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Government Announcements National Politics Personal Blog Thought Pieces Travel and Transport

The Conservative Case for Active Travel

Background and Context

The government has had what might be argued as a road to Damascus conversion to the benefits of active travel. Others might argue Boris has always been keen on cycling. Either way, Boris wants us all to get fit and he likes cycling as a means to get about.

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Personal Blog

In the world of Coronavirus every cough counts

Today is the first day of tightening restrictions – we’re not yet being ordered to stay at home. Being strongly advised to work from home and avoid social contact is where we are – it’s a far cry from the full lockdown approach we are seeing in other countries with loudhailer announcements and police patrolling the streets to keep people indoors. They are weeks ahead of us in terms of the infection curve, so this could just be a sign of things to come…

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Personal Blog

Representations regarding Edgeworth Close Housing Development 19/01575/FUL

I have today sent the following email in response to the planning application that Redditch Borough Council is submitting so the council can build 19 affordable dwellings to house people in need across Redditch. These will provide 48 bedrooms to accommodate 86 people. Three of the units will be Dormer-style bungalows, which will allow elderly and disabled citizens to downsize and in doing so they will free up 3/4 bedroom houses, which is by far and away the most demanded type of house the Council needs to provide.

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Personal Blog

Remembering a tragic road traffic accident of 29th April 2009, which resulted in the death of Daniel Patterson, 21.

On the 29th of April 2009 I was sat in my room in house that I shared with friends that faced onto the London Road, Coventry (A4114). I was working late, probably on a website, when I heard an almighty smash followed by the screeching of a car braking. I initially assumed that two cars had collided as there is no central divide/barrier on this stretch of road. Then I heard the screams.

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Personal Blog

Writer’s Rust

When you think about it, the end of the year is a peculiar thing, isn’t it?

On the one hand it’s all fairly easy-to-understand (but no means simple). The planet Earth is about to complete another orbit of its star – easy, right? Same thing that happens every year, and will happen for billions of years to come… That’s unless we blow it up or create an extinction event for ourselves, of course.