Hiring scooters for your kids is illegal
ELECTRIC scooter riders have been warned against "dangerous, foolish and illegal" behaviour after a surge in complaints.
An experimental scheme which allows people to hire and use e-scooters on the road, as an alternative to driving short distances, was extended to Downend, Staple Hill, Mangotsfield and Emersons Green in late March.
Within days, reports began to multiply on social media of e-scooters being ridden on footpaths, cycle paths and in parks, and being left parked blocking pavements.
The hire scheme, introduced by the West of England Combined Authority and operated by Voi Technology, is the only way to legally use e-scooters: privately-owned scooters remain banned from use in any public space.
The Voi scooters can only be hired by over-18s, who need to prove they have a full or provisional
driving licence. But many of the complaints involve children using scooters anti-socially.
Voi says the "vast majority" of anti-social behaviour incidents involve private e-scooters and not its machines.
Staple Hill and Mangotsfield ward South Gloucestershire councillor Ian Boulton said complaints over e-scooter misuse were taking up much of his time.
He said: "While the Voi e-scooters are undoubtedly replacing many ‘car miles’ with a cleaner alternative, it is obvious that some people are failing to recognise that hiring a Voi e-scooter makes them as liable to the same rules of the road as if they hired any other motor vehicle.
"Riding without a valid driving licence, riding on the pavements, in our parks or any other ‘no-ride’ zone is dangerous, foolish and illegal and our local neighbourhood police team have been keen to say that they will prioritise enforcing existing road traffic laws on anyone who chooses to flout the law.
"We are also getting anecdotal evidence that some adults are, almost unbelievably, trying to overcome the law and terms of booking by hiring e-scooters on behalf of their children."
As well as risking their child's life, anyone hiring a Voi e-scooter for an under-18 risks prosecution and penalty points, both for themselves and the child once they apply for a licence.
A police spokesperson said the force had received "a number of anecdotal reports of anti-social/underage riding since the trials started" and was policing e-scooter offences as part of regular neighbourhood patrols.
The spokesperson said while officers would first "engage and explain" with e-scooter users, enforcement was "an option for repeat or serious offences".
These included a 26-year-old Staple Hill man who had been stopped late at night on April 16 on a hired e-scooter in Soundwell Road, near Kingswood Leisure Centre, and found to be over the drink-drive limit.
The police are urging people with concerns over underage riding to report it to Voi, which can revoke hire agreements before taking enforcement action. A Voi spokesperson said that on the whole the trial had been well-received, with more than 445,000 trips taken on its scooters since it launched in October.
She said: "If an adult allows an underage person to ride an e-scooter, it’s the same as letting an underage person drive a car. Users can receive fines for this infraction, and points can be added to their driving licence."
Voi said it was providing users with information about parking safely and had patrols to move any incorrectly parked scooters, adding: "Recently, we started to roll out a new safety feature that allows us to give warnings and fines to any users who have parked their scooters incorrectly. Although the vast majority of users park their scooters correctly, this feature improves good parking behaviour significantly."
Voi said both Page Park and the Bristol and Bath Railway Path were "no riding zones" enforced by geofencing technology, which made its scooters would automatically slow down to walking pace.
The spokesperson said that the "vast majority" of both e-scooter accidents and anti-social behaviour reported to the police involved illegal use of privately-owned scooters.
She added: "Occasionally we receive reports of anti-social behaviour. In these situations, we work closely with the Avon and Somerset Police, and we have a 3 strike policy – if the user does not comply with our guidelines e-scooter regulations, they can have their account blocked and won’t be able to ride a Voi scooter again."