Despite calls that they are dangerous for blind and partially-sighted people, York is to extend its 12-month trial of electric scooters.
E-vehicle provider, TIER Mobility announced it will introduce more e-scooters and parking bays around the city centre in the new year, following the popularity of the service.
In Autumn 2020, the Department of Transport approved 50 locations across the UK to trial e-scooters.
The 12 month scheme aimed to promote environmentally friendly forms of transportation and ease congestion in busy city centres.
Since the trial began, 24,000 people used York’s e-scooters on over 140,000 journeys.
The e-scooters have been especially popular with students commuting from the university campus which lies two miles outside the city centre.
In the first term of the academic year, over 15,000 journeys originated from York’s university campus.
However, the National Federation of the Blind UK supports a nationwide ban on privately owned and rented scooters.
The organisation said that they are particularly dangerous to the blind, especially when users ride them illegally on the pavement.
Street access coordinator for NFB UK, Sarah Gayton said: “Blind people can’t jump out of the way meaning they are extremely vulnerable.
“The government needs to step back and reassess how to make transport more accessible and friendly for blind people.
“It’s not just dangerous for pedestrians but also for the riders because they are inherently designed wrong – in my eyes a pogo-stick on a skateboard,” she added.
“It has got a small wheel and a poor centre of gravity so if you hit a pothole or a stone, there’s no safety feature to protect you from going on to your face.”
In 2020, the Department of Transport registered 460 incidents involving e-scooters resulting in 484 casualties.
Earlier this week, Transport for London banned private e-scooters on London’s transport network after one caught on fire on a packed tube train.
Professor of transport governance at the University of Leeds, Greg Marsden said: “E-scooters will have an important role to play in enabling more people to join up their journeys to bus and rail.
“There are legitimate concerns about safety and some vulnerable road users, however, there are also risks from cars, so we need to find a way of regulating e-scooters which is proportionate.”
He added: “A key issue will be how we regulate individual e-scooter use so learning from the commercial shared trials is the right way to go.”
Jess Hall, Tier Mobility’s city manager in York said the company “works closely with cities and the government to continuously improve safety standards and address any issues of misuse”.
She added: “All of our rental e-scooters come with industry-leading safety features, including indicators, triple brakes and larger wheels to avoid toppling on roads.
“We also encourage riders to wear helmets whilst using our vehicles and have a maximum speed limit of 12.5mph and require our riders to take an e-scooter theory test and complete in-app safety training before their first ride.
“Our e-vehicles have brought a number of benefits to York, from reducing air pollution and easing congestion to providing a more exciting way of travelling around the city.”