Guide Dogs is warning that Great Britain has one chance to prevent e-scooter chaos, as the high level of illegal and anti-social use of e-scooters across the country, coupled with the lack of police enforcement, becomes apparent.
Currently, only e-scooters used as part of a Government trial are permitted on roads, while privately-owned e-scooters can only be used on private land. All e-scooters are banned from the pavement. However, new research shows only one in five people (22%) are aware of the legal restrictions on the use of e-scooters.
This number is worrying. Indeed e-scooters represent an emerging problem for pedestrians. They also present a serious safety issue for many people with sight loss, especially when misused. People with sight loss often rely on hearing to navigate safely, which makes e-scooters difficult to avoid and collisions more likely. This is why 1,600 people have already written to their MP to call for curbs on unsafe e-scooter use, using the petition Guide Dogs organised.
Legalising all e-scooters on public roads would have a dramatic and irreversible effect on our streets. We have one chance to make sure that people with sight loss and other disabilities do not lose out as a result.
Chris Theobald, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs
New research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Guide Dogs, reveals that illegal e-scooter use is currently more widespread than legal e-scooter use: - 71% of British adults have reported seeing e-scooters being driven illegally on the pavement in the last six months, compared with just 50% who reported seeing e-scooters being used on the road. - Four times more people have seen at least one privately-owned e-scooter being used in the last six months, compared with how many people have seen an e-scooter being used as part of a public trial.
Yet, according to new data from Freedom of Information requests, just a handful of police forces are taking appropriate action against illegal e-scooter misuse. Only four police forces reported having specific operations to target e-scooter offences, while an additional nine had reported no enforcement against them.
Chris Theobald, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “Even without a collision, a near miss can rob people with vision impairment of the confidence to go out independently. We are concerned that as e-scooter use grows, more people with sight loss will feel forced to stay at home to avoid growing numbers of e-scooters.
“Today’s research highlights the dangerous and anti-social use of e-scooters on pavements and the need for robust enforcement measures to prohibit their use on pavements. Retailers need to provide clear information on the legal status of e-scooters at the point of sale, while the police need to make sure they are tackling illegal and dangerous e-scooter use.”
We're urging the Government to act following clear public support for a new law on pavement parking in England
New figures show that three-quarters of guide dog owners (76%) have been illegally turned away by businesses and services, such as taxis, restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and pubs.