Our vision for the future of electric scooters in the UK
UPDATE 2 OCTOBER 2020
We are delighted the Transport Committee have today announced that escooters should be legalised. The committee realises the benefits escooters can have as a green alternative to the car.
Committee chair Huw Merriman said: "E-scooters have the potential to become an exciting and ingenious way to navigate our streets and get from place to place.
"If this gets people out of the car, reducing congestion and exercising in the open air, then even better."
The team at Micro scooters look forward to being a part of future developments and will work closely with government, local authorities and communities to provide a 21st Century solution to travel.
UPDATE 1 JULY 2020
We are pleased the UK government announced rental e-scooters will become legal on roads in Great Britain from 4th July 2020. We understand and fully support new methods of transport to help alleviate the pressure on public transport. We also believe this is a sensible decision amid the corona virus crisis.
However, we are disappointed private electric scooters are not included in the new regulations. We are huge supporters of micro mobility solutions and believe private electric scooter ownership is a safer, more economical way of getting people from A-B compared to escooter sharing schemes. You can read our full thoughts on private scooter vs shared escooters below.
- E-scooters are part of the solution for the 21 st century micro mobility. It is a greener,
- healthier, quicker, cheaper and less crowded solution to travelling short distances in densely
- populated areas. It avoids the congestion and crowds of cars buses or tubes.
- It is currently illegal in the UK however, the law needs to change in line with the rest of the
- world who have updated their legal restrictions to welcome and regulate the use of escooters as a modern mode of transport.
Micro Scooters UK vision for an electric future in the UK
We have been convinced for over 20 years that a scooter is the ideal means of transport in cities and towns. As early as 1999 Wim Ouboter the founder and CEO of Micro Mobility systems was developing and producing non-electric scooters. Over the last twenty years the use of scooters has been transferring from children to adults.
We have seen a considerable rise over the past months in adult push scooters as a solution to COVID 19. However by far the biggest interest globally
is the use of electric scooters for adults. With e scooter sharing companies like Bird, Lime, Voi, Flash and Hive leading these emerging markets there is significant growth. UK retailers alone estimate they will sell in excess of 350 000 e scooters this year. And that is without a change in the law.
Whether or not scooters are electric or push, they are lightweight, portable, and environmentally friendly and a great way of getting a daily dose of exercise.
E scooter sharing or rental schemes
The e scooter sharing model or rental scheme is popular in cities in Europe and California. Whilst it is a good business model it has some drawbacks that need to be considered. Most notably the quality/safety of the scooters being used in the schemes and the proficiency of riders who use them.
Any legislation to make E Scooters legal on roads needs to take these considerations into account. Whilst rental schemes are popular, we believe e scooter ownership is preferable and the best way forward.
If people own rather than rent a scooter they will care for them and use them responsibly. They will not be left littering streets, left to deteriorate and cause a hazard. It is worth noting the impact Covid 19 may have on the willingness of the public to use e-scooter sharing schemes.
Micro escooters are premium scooters. Built to last. If they are looked after properly by their owners they are a long term solution for urban mobility.
The benefit of e scooter ownership is the rider can practice riding the scooter before they head out on the roads. Riding an e-scooter is intuitive. Owning an e-scooter means you can test how the scooter behaves, how to give a turn signal, how the brake works and how the scooter reacts to kerbs.
Electric scooters are lightweight and easy to fold which means owners can take them into their home or office easily. E scooters can be taken on any form of public transport. The behaviour of road users has changed: People are using a greater variety of transport methods to get to their destinations. An e scooter makes sense when it is used to replace the car or the motorcycle, or
facilitates the switch to public transport.
What we would like to see the government do to make escooter riding safe is:
- Invest in infrastructure for adult scooters and escooter riders in order for them to be able to ride safely on the roads
- Insist that every rider should wear a helmet and have a light and bell
- Introduce a national scheme teaching people how to ride safely
- Regulate scooters in the same way as electric bikes
- Ask the insurance industry to address the need for third part and first party cover.
We do not think e scooting is unsafe when it is done in a responsible manner and on a well-engineered properly maintained electric scooter.
We do believe e scooting will grow considerably. The numbers of electric scooters being used worldwide in cities such as Paris, San Francisco and London (to name a few) bear this out. We want to future proof e scooters as a sustainable method of transport by encouraging infrastructure, legalisation and responsible ownership. Part of this framework is for owners to insure their scooters. The insurance industry should address the need for cover in this growth sector.
Scooter ownership is a value for money transport alternative.
- A well-engineered electric scooter is an investment. Micro is renowned for making well engineered push and electric scooters.
- If maintained, an electric scooter will last longer than a cheaper version.
- Over time an electric scooter will pay for itself several times over.
- With an average range of 15 miles electric scooters are a real alternative to cars, and the crowded environment of buses and the tube.
We believe escooters are just as safe to use as bikes.
Electric scooters are slower than bikes. Scooters are also easier to dismount from. The statistics around injuries/deaths on electric scooters are mainly derived from the e scooter sharing model.
This is a further reason we believe e scooter ownership is the way forward. We’d rather people use their electric scooters daily, become used to using them in an appropriate fashion and take care of them. As opposed to occasional users of e-scooter sharing schemes who might not be so careful.
It is also worth considering that all electric Micro scooters have been through all the mandatory and voluntarily safety standards and are equipped with effective brake systems both electrical and mechanical.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People is particularly concerned about the legalisation of e- scooters in the UK as blind and partially sighted people can’t hear them coming. What is our response?
We understand their concerns which is why we are advocating for riders to install a bell. More importantly we are clearly stating electric scooters should be ridden on the road not the pavements. In the same way as electric bikes are ridden on the road. These two measures should minimise any risk to pedestrians on the pavement whether they are fully sighted or not.
There are fears the availability of escooters will discourage people from walking short distances and contribute to greater levels of obesity.
We are not saying escooters replace physical activity/short walk. But they could replace a longer journey.
Poor security protocols could lead to scooters being hacked and personal user information being stolen. What is our response?
It is true some of Micro’s electric scooters come complete with a mobile app to help the rider monitor their ride. Metrics collected on this app include distance of ride, battery status and the speed of the scooter. There is very little if any personal information collected. Any information logged is considerably less invasive/personal than that collected on a mobile device for example.
Researchers at North Carolina State University found that traveling by scooter produces more greenhouse gas emissions per mile than traveling by bus, bicycle, moped or on foot. The team discovered that while the scooters themselves were not particularly environmentally unfriendly,
the materials it took to manufacture the frame, wheels and battery, as well as the companies’ efforts at the end of each day to round up the scooters, charge them and then return them to the streets, had significant impact when it came to greenhouse gas emissions.
The findings from the University rightly highlight issues surrounding electric scooter sharing schemes. At Micro we are advocating for electric ownership. As the premium scooter company in the market we invest the time, money and engineering capacity to use only the finest parts.
Robust materials that make scooter ownership a long lasting value for money investment. Not only is scooting better for the environment it is a more convenient and cost effective way to get around.
Our national scooter proficiency scheme for children, Scoot Safe encourages more children and their families to scoot. It has been running for nearly 10 years and goes into a school every day to not only teach scooter proficiency but to bring the wider benefits of scooting to local communities.
Through the scheme we donate scooters to schools, which are then lent out to families to encourage families to try scooting.
Our work with Sustrans the charity that makes it easier for people to walk, cycle and scoot has involved sponsorship of the Big Pedal for three consecutive years. It is a nationwide scheme aimed at getting more families to come to school in a sustainable way.
Micro UK takes sustainability seriously. Our history has shown we put time and investment into schemes that encourage more people to move sustainably. We have been successful in doing this for children and we firmly believe we can, through escooter ownership, do this for adults.
Should children be allowed on an electric scooter?
Any child under the age of 16 can ride a scooter on private land and our own view is that a hybrid scooter with a top speed of 11mph is suitable for a child aged 8 plus.
The government recommend electric scooters for children aged 16 plus. Ebikes are legal for children aged 14 plus. We at Micro would be happy to endorse the government recommendation.
Further information about Micro Scooters UK
In 2004 Micro Scooters UK started to sell three wheeled scooters for children. Over the last 16 years we have sold over 2.5M children’s scooters in the UK. We have also sold adult push scooters and children’s two wheeled scooters. Micro Scooters UK is a distributor for Micro Mobility Systems AG based in Zurich whose founder, Wim Ouboter invented the first folding aluminium scooter and also the three wheeled children’s scooter in the late 1990s.
We estimate that over 1M children scoot to school everyday. In 2004 when we founded the business no children scooted to school. We cannot accurately estimate the number of car journeys saved over the past 16 years, however, we believe that we have been responsible for a paradigm shift in children’s transportation saving perhaps as many as 1M car journeys a year in built up areas. Ten years ago no child wore a helmet when scooting. Now with the advent of our own helmets ten years ago, one in two scooters sold by us is purchased with a helmet.
Further information about Micro Mobility Systems
The future of mobility is embedded in Micro’s DNA. From the invention of the first folding 2 wheeled aluminium scooter 20 years ago to our work on the Microlino (an electric car) to our partnership with transportation innovators such as BMW and Peugeot (installing electric scooters in the boot of electric cars). We welcome the hype about e scooters, as the founder of Micro Mobility
Systems, Wim Ouboter says “the advantages of a scooter for urban mobility has finally been recognised. Many city dwellers can now test the unique driving experience before opting to buy their own.”E scooters have become popular in other countries in built up areas, namely the USA, France, Portugal and Spain.
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