Government trials of e-scooters have been extended by 18 months, despite a surge in the number of pedestrians injured by them.
Transport minister Trudy Harrison announced that local authorities in England will have the option of continuing pilot schemes for rental e-scooters until the end of May 2024.
The extension will allow the Government to “gather further evidence where haps are identified, building on the findings of the current evaluation”.
Department for Transport figures revealed 223 pedestrians were injured after being hit by an e-scooter in Britain last year, including 63 who were seriously hurt. This is up from a total of 57 casualties in 2020, with just 13 suffering serious injuries.
Rental e-scooters are currently being trialled in 30 areas across England. The schemes were initially due to run for just over a year to November 2021, but the deadline was pushed back to March and then November.
Guide Dogs has responded to the decision to extend e-scooter trials and said: It is disappointing the Government has decided to extend the e-scooter rental scheme before publishing before publishing the evaluation. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to understand what basis the decision has been made on.
“The Government should publish their current evaluation and set priorities for their evaluation of the 18-month extension. The safety of pedestrians must be at the heart of this, including the safety of blind or partially sighted people.
“Guide Dogs research shows that nearly 75% of people with sight loss who have encountered an e-scooter have had a negative experience. Visually impaired people are already being forced to change their behaviour because of e-scooters, with some changing their regular routes and others not leaving home alone.
“While the timescale for trials have changed, the urgency to enforce the law around the illegal use of e-scooters has not. Trials which were intended to last just over a year now will run for almost four years, in this time private e-scooters have remained illegal but common sight on our streets, and their use will only grow without enforcement of the law.
“The Government must work with police to ensure the law is enforced and people know it remains illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public land.”