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SWT extends e-scooter trial to Minehead

14 May 2021 : Council news, Community, Environment

Residents in Minehead will soon be able to choose a green alternative for getting around as Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) extends its e-scooter trial to West Somerset.

The move to include Minehead in the Department for Transport (DfT) approved trial follows a successful launch in Taunton in October 2020 where nearly 8,000 users have already travelled over 66,000 miles, removing the equivalent of 9.1 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

The trial in Minehead is expected to go live in June and will run until the end of March 2022. It will be operated by the Council’s appointed partner Zipp Mobility who will also be employing staff locally.

SWT and Zipp will be engaging with local representatives and groups in order to ensure the trial is tailor-made for the area and has a positive impact on the community, building on valuable guidance gained in monthly meetings with disability groups.

Rental e-scooters were made legal for use on UK roads, cycle lanes and cycle tracks in selected trial areas in July 2020. SWT submitted a proposal to the DfT for an e-scooter trial in line with its commitment to working towards achieving carbon neutrality and climate resilience by 2030.

Cllr Dixie Darch, Executive Member for Climate Change, said: “We have been encouraged by the really positive response to the trial in Taunton and are delighted to be extending the scheme to Minehead.

“E-scooters offer a cleaner, greener, low carbon alternative to get around our towns and allow for social distancing as we emerge from the latest lockdown.

“As well as offering more people the opportunity to join SWT in its climate and environmental responsibilities, this scheme will also support the local economy by creating jobs in the West Somerset area.”

The Zipp Mobility e-scooter has been carefully designed with safety in mind. It features an aircraft-grade aluminium frame, 10-inch airless tyres, a swappable battery, dual braking, a wide base and a low centre of gravity.

Charlie Gleeson, Founder and CEO at Zipp Mobility said: “Zipp knows just how progressive SWT is in its vision to bring greener, more accessible transport solutions to the community. Expanding this trial in the district means that we can provide local Minehead residents with ease of daily commuting through better access to safe, efficient, and affordable mobility.”

Will O’Brien, Vice President of Growth and Government Affairs, Zipp Mobility, added: “SWT’s commitment to work towards carbon neutrality by 2030 is among the most ambitious in the country.

"Zipp believes in mobility done right, so we are excited to work with such an environmentally conscious local authority. Helping SWT on its journey in meeting this goal, through the delivery of a world-class e-scooter trial, is a priority for the whole Zipp team."

The hired vehicles can only be used within set geographical boundaries, so Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) have been amended in order to be ready to start the trial.

The Department for Transport has stipulated that only the rental e-scooters involved in the trials can be used in public areas - it remains illegal to use privately owned e-scooters in a public space.

SWT and Zipp Mobility are working with the Avon and Somerset Police (ASP) to help educate people about these laws and will be holding a series of training and education sessions for members of the public in advance of the e-scooter trial going live in Minehead. The training sessions will adhere to the Government’s Coronavirus guidance on meeting with others safely. Further details will be announced soon.

Richard McKiernan, Traffic Management Officer at ASP, said: “Whilst the trial offers a new and exciting way of moving around the area, we strongly recommend that users attend one of the training sessions before taking to the road. These sessions will help give an understanding of the rules of their use, as well as emphasising the importance of personal safety while on the road.

“I would also remind anyone who has their own e-scooter that their use remains illegal, other than on private land with the land owner’s permission, and it could be seized if you use it on a road or public area.

"E-scooters are classed as a motor vehicle and even the trial ones can only be used by people over 16 with a provisional or full driving licence. Anyone using an e-scooter who is under this age or does not have a driving licence will be breaking the law and could be fined or receive points on their licence, this includes parents who register and give the e-scooter to a child to ride”.