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 email@example.com 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.
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.