E-scooter trial to begin in Brentwood from January

E-scooters are set to be rolled out in Brentwood from late January 2021, the company behind the trial has said.

Working with its commercial partner Spin – the micro mobility unit of Ford Motor Company – as well as district, borough and city councils and Essex Police, e-scooter trials are being rolled out as part of Essex County Council’s safer, greener, healthier transport campaign.

With pilot approval from the Department of Transport now obtained, the innovative trials in Essex will see Spin provide and manage an e-scooter rental system in defined areas of Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester.

Private e-scooters are currently still illegal on public roads in the UK. However, the Department for Transport is running a number of UK-wide trials, including Spin’s, where anyone over the age of 18 with a valid driving licence can legally hire an e-scooter.

The monthly fee for the e-scooter is £55 a month, which includes a Spin scooter that the rider will have exclusive access to, as well as insurance, a helmet, a charging cable, 24/7 customer support and maintenance.

Spin launched in Basildon last week – the first of the six locations in Essex – with 50 e-scooters. Spin is said to be seeing encouraging rider figures and feedback, building on its continued success in Milton Keynes where it has been operating for almost six months.

The trials will have strict operational rules to ensure safety of all road users, be it pedestrians, including those with sight and hearing loss, cyclists or drivers. Spin e-scooters are speed-restricted to a maximum of 15.5 mph.

Spin will use geofencing technology to prevent its e-scooters from being operated outside of permitted areas. E-scooters can generally be ridden anywhere that bicycles are allowed to go, including most low-speed (up to 30mph) roads. Users should always check the in-app information. Use of e-scooters are not permitted on pavements and strictly one person per scooter.

Steve Pyer, UK country manager at Spin, said: “E-scooters are a simple and fun way to get around in Essex. Our key aim is to provide a socially distanced and safe way for people to travel that also reduces the number of short car journeys made. Our rider survey in Milton Keynes has already shown that 63 per cent of riders used an e-scooter instead of driving, so it’s also better for the environment.”

Lord Randall, chairman of the Essex Climate Action Commission, added: “The commission has agreed we must take action now to reduce our carbon footprint in Essex. With almost a third of greenhouse gases coming from transport, we need to take a serious look at how we are moving about the county and how we can make our transport more sustainable.

“Any idea which may reveal itself to be a valid contribution to reducing greenhouse gases has my attention, we can’t rule anything out. That’s why a trial of e-scooters was one of the commission’s recommendations in its recent interim report.

“I welcome these e-scooter trials and am glad to see that the safety of e-scooter users, as well as other road users and pedestrians is of paramount importance. I’m very curious to discover if e-scooters are a sustainable way to move around Essex towns and cities and I will be watching these trials with great interest.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter