Walk down a city high street on any day of the week and the chances are that you’ll see an e-scooter whizz past you.
It’s amazing how quickly these speedy, convenient and green machines are beginning to embed themselves in our everyday transport culture. Sure, they might be seen as a fad by some people, or an irritation (by those who generally get annoyed at pretty much anything new or a little challenging) but e-scooters are much more than fizzy fun and temporary change.
People want to buy them for a wide range of purposes – and many of these can be neatly grouped under the heading “Last-Mile Carbon Reduction”. So, what’s that?
At root, it covers all the many ways that people want to use their e-scooters to avoid jumping into the fossil-fuel car, or onto petrol or diesel public transport, or the carbon-emitting Uber/taxis. At the same time as cutting carbon, they also want to save money – all very sound arguments in favour of e-scooters. And let’s not forget fun!
The last mile might be a trip to the paper shop or that walk from the train station to the office that always takes just a bit too long. We like to think of it as being any short-ish journey that in the past would have been an occasion for us to reach for the car keys, transport ticket, debit card or wallet.
It’s interesting to see the Government’s very cautious position on the technology. Strictly speaking, the e-scooter is legal only on private land apart from a few urban areas across the country where trials are being conducted.
It’s tempting to conclude that the Government has consigned them to the “gimmick bucket” that tourists will rent for an hour as they explore London or Cambridge but most people want to ride their e-scooters responsibly, wearing a helmet and other protection. For them, it’s very much like using a bike – electric or manual.
Net Zero target
It surely makes sense to allow e-scooters to be widely used and this locks in tightly with the Government’s target for Net Zero carbon emissions.
Owners of e-scooters say they want to use them in their city, town or village, and have them in the boot of the car so they can use them to travel through traffic-heavy areas much faster and without emissions, using the cycle paths where available.
Working from home more has prompted many families to consider saving costs by having just the one car. With the e-scooter, most of their everyday travel needs will be met, while easing the pressures on the home budget.
The e-scooter is a perfect solution for so many people, from those with mobility challenges and older citizens who no longer want the cost and worries of owning cars just for short trips to cash-strapped and car-less students who will use them to get about easily on and off campus.
We even think that the police could use them to patrol the streets!
Strong green credentials
The e-scooter also has strong green credentials. They would clearly provide big environmental benefits, with far fewer carbon emissions being the main plus point, as well as the reduced impact from car production and the massive reduction of landfill and waste.
While the rise of electric cars and vans is unstoppable, it’s also a fact that not everyone can currently afford a Tesla. While the majority of motorists are considering purchasing an electric vehicle sometime in the next five years, we could all enjoy the benefits of a “two-wheeled Tesla”, designed for the short journey now. It’ll be an affordable first move on the road to electric travel for many of us.
If safety is a big concern for the regulators, then it would be relatively simple to make wearing a crash hat mandatory (with the vast majority of e-scooterists being in favour). For younger riders, a form of e-scooter proficiency much like the cycling proficiency lessons and test would be effective, along with regulations on maximum speeds, with perhaps a small road tax of £20 per year.