‘Death trap’ e-scooter claim ‘depends on the driver’ say users

A councillor’s slating of Liverpool’s trial of electric scooters has divided the city, with some completely in favour and others fervently opposed.

At a Wirral Council meeting on Tuesday night, Hoylake and Meols councillor Tony Cox said e-scooters were “orange death traps”.

Since October, Liverpool has been running a trial of new e-scooters in co-operation with supplier Voi.

Both Liverpool Council and Voi insisted the scooters are safe and clear rules on their use are in place.

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But reacting to a presentation on alternatives to cars in the Liverpool City Region, the Conservative councillor added: “It won’t be long before someone is wiped out on one of them, I’ve seen them [go straight through traffic lights] on the pavement, off the pavement, all hours of the night, they don’t turn off when they’re meant to turn off.

“The people who are using them don't have driving licences cause they’re not old enough, it’s pretty clear they’ve used their mum’s credit card.

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“How does that tie in to active transport? Because it’s got absolutely nothing to do with active transport and it’s just messing around on a scooter across the city centre.”

Reacting to a post on the ECHO's Facebook page, some agreed with Cllr Cox.

One person said: “They are an absolute nightmare along the promenade and through the festival gardens.

“So fast, no helmets, no road sense and no respect.”

Another person thought they had an explanation for Liverpool Council’s claim that there have not been many incidents with electric scooters.

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They said: “There's been very few incidents because we are in the midst of lockdown. It isn't often I agree with a Tory, but the man's right.

“Should there be a fatality, then the public should know exactly where the responsibility lies. They are yet another accident waiting to happen.”

While a further Facebook user added: “I hate these. They're an absolute nightmare for drivers.”

However, there was a great deal of support for e-scooters online.

Many pointed to the benefits for the environment. One such person said: “People love a moan!

“For a start, if more people used them there would be much less congestion in town, they’re excellent for getting from A-B with minimal cost or fuss, they’re better for the environment, [they] reduce air pollution and are really good fun!

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“There might be some teething problems here but the schemes are successful in plenty of other major cities in Europe.”

One user of the scooters gave their experience of them. The rider said: “I started using them today for the first time, absolutely brilliant.

“It comes down to the user if they’re death traps or not. Great way of getting around, the app is great. Just need expanding to Sefton and Knowsley now.”

While another Facebook user said safety concerns were not the fault of electric scooter riders. They added: “I used one for the first time when I was in Gothenburg.

“They were brilliant for getting around. The major problem here, among plenty, is that car drivers tend to think they rule the road and show no care to other users.

“Same with cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikes etc. If we all looked out for each other they would fit within the fabric of the road network no problem.”

Voi wished to make it clear that to ride an e-scooter you must be at least 18 years old, have a provisional driving licence and only use roads and cycle lanes, as well as complying with other traffic regulations.

The operator also confirmed it is illegal to ride the scooters on the pavement and that people can be blocked from using electric scooters if they break the rules, with the company working with police and ambassadors on the ground to monitor how they are being used.

On the function of electric scooters, Voi said its main goal is to replace short car journeys by giving people access to a convenient, carbon-neutral form of transport which reduces congestion and pollution.

In response to Cllr Cox’s comments, a spokesperson for Liverpool Council said: “The e-scooter scheme has been extremely successful to date, with very few incidents.

“The operator Voi has a huge amount of experience in this field and has gone to great lengths to ensure the system is as accessible and as safe as possible.

“We continue to monitor its usage and our Highways Team is in regular contact with Voi and our partners at the Combined Authority.

"We note the councillor’s comments and welcome all feedback on this innovative scheme.”

Got a Wirral story? Email me at george.morgan@reachplc.com