Written evidence submitted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport is a professional institution embracing all transport modes whose members are engaged in the provision of transport services for both passengers and freight, the management of logistics and the supply chain, transport planning, government and administration. Our principal concern is that transport policies and procedures should be effective and efficient, based on objective analysis of the issues and practical experience, and that good practice should be widely disseminated and adopted. The Institute has a number of specialist forums, a nationwide structure of locally based groups and a Public Policies Committee which considers the broad canvass of transport policy.
This response from the Access & Inclusion Forum of the CILT focusses on issues of concern to vulnerable pedestrians and in particular people with impaired vision and older people.
Our comments on the specific questions raised by the Select Committee are as follow:
No, current legislation does not recognise the concept of e-scooters and they are therefore not adequately provided for in terms of protecting scooter users or protecting other road users and pedestrians.
In particular the absence of a requirement for a licence, test of competence or insurance leaves both pedestrians and other road users at great risk.
Benefits are unproven and likely to be outweighed by risks to users, other road users and to pedestrians.
E-scooter users would put themselves and other road users at substantial risk on the road (evidence from other countries already supports this).
On pavements they would be a major hazard to pedestrians in general and to older people and those with vision loss in particular.
Many older people already lose the confidence to go out for fear of falling or being knocked into by cyclists using the pavement. E-scooters travelling at faster speeds would be potentially highly dangerous to older people, those with mobility difficulty and those who are blind or have low vision.
It is important to recognise the loss of mobility through fear as well as the risk of actual accidents.
Evidence from Shared Space schemes indicates that many older and disabled pedestrians simply stop using an area where they fear for their personal safety.
Restricting e-scooters to cycle lanes would therefore seem to be the only safe course of action, provided that their use is strictly enforced (see comment about cyclists above).
There is an additional risk of shared rental e-scooter schemes leading to them being discarded across pavements causing a tripping hazard. This is already the case with some bike hire schemes and evidence from cities like Paris show the potential significant hazard.
Compulsory wearing of cycle-type helmets would offer protection to riders. Proper footwear (no flipflops or sandals) should also be strongly advised if not mandated.
They should be fitted with a bell or other means of warning pedestrians of their approach. There has been a battle for many years led by organisations of blind people to re-instate the requirement for bicycles to have bells as a reliable and detectable form of warning. Shouts of “look out” are useless to blind people.
Assuming that e-scooters are generally recharged off the public road at people’s homes, there would be no concern. However, if there are plans for on-street charging points, great care needs to be taken to ensure that it is not possible for trailing cables to be left as a tripping hazard for blind or older pedestrians (already becoming a problem with some e-car re-charging points).
Reports from Paris and other French cities indicate that they are “plagued by accidents, often causing serious injuries, as scooter riders collide with pedestrians or other vehicles” (Daily Telegraph August 2019).
Similar concerns are reported from Spain: “In Barcelona, a 92-year-old woman died in August 2018 after she was run over by an e-scooter — making it the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle. The woman was out for a stroll in the Catalan town of Esplugues de Llobregat when she was knocked down by a man on an e-scooter who allegedly didn’t see her because he was looking down at his mobile phone.” (Euro News, June 2019).