Don’t ask Santa for an e-scooter this Christmas: Introducing e-scooters the right way 

Posted: 6 December 2021 | | No comments yet

Georgia Yexley, General Manager for UK & Ireland at TIER Mobility, explains how illegal private e-scooter use is jeopardising the safe wider adoption of shared e-scooters in the UK and draws attention to the lack of rigorous safety standards in place for private vehicles.

TIER Mobility: Introducing e-scooters the right way 

As Santa gets ready to board his sleigh in a few weeks time, it is expected to be laden with gift-wrapped e-scooters. They are fun, convenient, environmentally friendly and the newest way to get around town. However, in the last week, we have seen warnings from the Metropolitan Police, the Association of British Insurers and a number of other police forces across the country against buying private e-scooters for Christmas – it was recently reported that the Met has already seized 3,600 private e-scooters in a holiday crack-down.

You might think that, as an e-scooter company, TIER Mobility would be thrilled about a possible festive spike in sales of e-scooters. But, while it’s great to see that the public are on board with e-scooters as a sustainable, convenient mode of transport to replace short car journeys, far too few people are aware of the simple fact that it’s currently illegal in the UK to ride a private e-scooter on public roads. 

Private e-scooter use is jeopardising the safe adoption of micro-mobility in the UK

We are thrilled to bring our experience as Europe’s largest micro-mobility operator to the UK, and we want e-scooters to be thoughtfully introduced to our streets, with buy-in from government, transport authorities and support from the wider public. We want to take people along with us, and the current national trials allow us to demonstrate that e-scooters and other modes of micro-mobility can be a safe, sustainable part of the transport mix in the UK – providing green, accessible transport and cutting carbon emissions.

We want private e-scooters to be legalised, but they must be properly regulated to be safe” 

But that sensible, regulated and collaborative approach risks being upended if e-scooters with varying degrees of quality – and, therefore, safety – hit UK roads. We want private e-scooters to be legalised, but they must be properly regulated to be safe. That’s what we are working towards through our participation in the national trials. The intelligence that we gather from these trials and the lessons that we learn will help feed into long term regulation to make sure that private e-scooters are safe. Shortcutting that process risks further compounding negative views of sustainable transport and impacting the ability to deliver real benefits to the public and our cities. That’s why we echo what police forces are saying and make clear that e-scooter companies themselves do not want the public to break the rules. Doing so not only risks negative impact on the sustainable transport industry, but, more importantly, risks individuals running in with the law when they’re simply aiming to get from A to B. 

Passenger and vehicle safety is a top priority

TIER Mobility e-scooters

Credit: TIER Mobility – In several of its markets, including York, TIER has an integrated helmet located on the scooter as an extra safety measure.

This is, crucially, about safety. Private e-scooters currently do not have the same rigorous safety standards as those involved in trials. Because private e-scooters are illegal, they are unregulated and so people might be surprised that there are no specific safety standards that a manufacturer has to meet – because they aren’t supposed to be used in the public realm at all. 

We go to great lengths to make our vehicles as safe as possible. Our team of street rangers ensure that our fleet is maintained to the highest standards, with our operations team at the warehouse carrying out repairs and maintenance work wherever needed. Our e-scooters are also safer by design than unregulated private counterparts. Our front wheel is 12 inches high and mounted on dual shock absorbers, making for a simpler, smoother ride. We have brakes on both handlebars, not the typical one side, and a drum brake on the motor wheel, giving maximum control to our riders. In several of our markets, including York, we also have an integrated helmet located on the scooter. 

Retailer and consumer responsibilities

Retailers should not be misleading consumers, who may find that they have bought someone an expensive gift that they are simply unable to use without breaking the law”

Retailers clearly have a really serious responsibility here, and should not capitalise on public confusion. Far too often, advertisements for e-scooters fail to clearly flag the rules. Retailers should not be misleading consumers, who may find that they have bought someone an expensive gift that they are simply unable to use without breaking the law. To do our part in combating this issue, at TIER, we are offering the public a trade-in option where we will responsibly dispose of the private e-scooter and provide legal access to our regulated service through equivalent credit.

We don’t want to be e-scooter grinches – but we want to make sure that people who are considering buying an e-scooter as a gift this Christmas are aware that riding an e-scooter on the road is only allowed in places where there is a government approved trial in place, with approved e-scooter rental companies. If you are caught using a private e-scooter on the road, you could end up with a Christmas-busting £300 fine or six points on your driving licence. 

Supporting future e-scooter adoption

At TIER, we’re passionate about transforming cities by offering e-scooters as a safe, sustainable mode of transport – and we are keen to bring our expertise and experience to the UK, but safety remains our priority. Those attempting to get a head-start by shortcutting the regulatory process and breaking the law should think twice. With rental scheme trials continuing into the new year, invest your money in another gift for your loved one this Christmas, and help us to get this right – so that e-scooters can ultimately stay in the UK, and change mobility for good.

Now in her second micro-mobility company with Unicorn status, Georgia Yexley, General Manager for UK & Ireland at TIER Mobility, has worked in partnership with hundreds of cities across the globe to reach their active and sustainable transport goals through micro-mobility. A firm believer that collaboration and partnership underpin sustainable services, Georgia is responsible for commercial performance, rider experience and community impact. Alongside this, she is a passionate advocate for inclusion and accessibility, and contributes to raising the volume of women and underrepresented groups in technology and mobility both in and outside of the workplace.