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DfT approved e-scooter trials to be extended

16 November 2022 : Council news, Environment, Partnership working

E-scooter trials in Minehead and Taunton are to be extended following public consultation and approval from the Department of Transport (DfT).

It was announced in June that participating Local Authorities could extend existing e-scooter trials until 31 May 2024, enabling the DfT to gather further evidence where gaps are identified and to build on the findings of the current evaluation.

In response to this announcement, Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council held a consultation to survey public opinion on safety preferences and potential future trial enhancements. The consultation was aimed towards the Minehead trial and was launched at the end of August for a period of one month.

364 responses were received in total, of which 252 (69%) of respondents were local to Minehead and 192 (53%) had experience using the trial’s e-scooters. In response to opinions on the trial being extended, with the exception of two abstentions, 199 (55%) were either satisfied, more than satisfied or very satisfied, compared with 163 (45%) being partly satisfied or not satisfied.

Cllr Dixie Darch, Executive Member for Climate Change, said: “We're encouraged by the DfT’s announcement and the feedback received from our recent consultation, and delighted to be extending the trials in Minehead and Taunton. Extending these trials will enable the DfT to obtain more accurate data with regards to safety and to establish best practice for shared micromobility services.

“Trying out new environmentally friendly modes of transport is essential to meet our climate commitment for a carbon neutral district by 2030. E-scooters offer a clean, low carbon alternative to using fossil fuelled vehicles for shorter journeys. As well as reducing harmful emissions, e-scooters can help to reduce noise pollution and congestion on busy urban roads.”

Since launching in October 2020, Taunton’s e-scooter trial has seen 121,750 rides by nearly 15,000 riders travelling over 228,500 miles, removing an estimated 31.4 tonnes of atmospheric carbon compared with fossil fuel powered vehicles. Minehead’s trial has seen almost 30,000 rides by over 12,000 riders travelling over 43,000 miles, removing an equivalent 6 tonnes of carbon since launching in June 2021.

Minehead and Taunton’s trial schemes are managed by SWT’s e-scooter provider Zipp Mobility, which operates the service seven days a week from 5.00am until 10.30pm, for users aged 16 or over with a provisional or full driving licence. E-scooters can be unlocked for £1 and users are charged 15p per minute thereafter using Zipp Mobility’s App. All e-scooters are limited to 15.5 mph with speed reductions electronically enforced in certain zones across the trial areas.

Charlie Gleeson, CEO of Zipp Mobility, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue to contribute to Somerset West and Taunton’s ambitious climate action goals. This move is a clear recognition of the success of the trial to date and we look forward to improving on this over the next 18 months.”

While the trials continue until May 2024, SWT will continue to work with Zipp Mobility and Avon and Somerset Police (ASP) to promote the rules of the road and safety – not only for riders but also for other road users and pedestrians through training and education sessions.

As it remains illegal to use privately owned e-scooters in public spaces, the DfT has stipulated that only e-scooters involved in the trial areas can be used. Therefore, Minehead and Taunton’s trial e-scooters have been geofenced, limiting their use to within the permitted areas.

Anyone witnessing the misuse of an e-scooter belonging to the trials is encouraged to report it to Zipp Mobility, who is responsible for issuing warning notices and banning users. If possible, details concerning the day, date, time, location, description of the rider and the e-scooter registration number which can be found on the rear wheel hub, should be included and emailed to Zipp Mobility at info@zippmobility.com.

Reports will be acknowledged and investigated, however, updates on any subsequent action will be withheld under data project law. Alternatively, Zipp Mobility can be contacted directly via their App, available from the App Store or Google Play.

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