Lucy Atkinson, Sustainability Project Manager City of York Council, explains that York is one of the pilot sites for e-scooters and e-bikes operated by Tier. This is part of a National Trial led by the Department for Transport.
How much are people using the e-scooters and e-bikes?
The pilot started in October 2020 with 50 e-scooters, and by the end of March 2021 there will be up to 400 e-scooters and 50 e-bikes within the city. We heard that they are proving very popular, with a total of 2,759 riders, and total ride distance of 52, 755k as of January 2021.
What safety considerations are in place?
The vehicles have a number of Covid safe features, such as copper on the handlebars. Also, we use geofencing to ensure the e-scooters do not enter pedestrianised areas.
These actions and options enable residents and commuters to choose the best way for them to access the city and its surrounds.
What prompted this change?
The Department for Transport were initially looking at legalising e-scooters through a trial with four English cities, announced in early 2020. As Covid developed, the Department for Transport extended this opportunity to participate in the trials to all local authorities, to aid their Covid responses.
The City of York Council also saw this opportunity as offering positive long-term benefits through introducing a shared, sustainable and active transport option, through the addition of e-bikes to the scheme. The shared model also allows residents and (post-COVID restrictions) visitors to York to try e-scooters and e-bikes to explore more of York.
Who are you working in partnership with?
During this trial we have partnered with the University of York, York St John University, North Yorkshire Police and York Hospital, as well as TIER, our e-scooter partner.
How do you ensure specific communities are not disadvantaged by this trial?
We are engaging with The Thomas Pocklington Trust and Wilberforce Trust on how best to implement the scheme to mitigate impacts on the visually impaired. Regular updates are provided to all partners on the progress of the trial, with any concerns addressed by TIER.
How are the e-Scooters funded?
The e-Scooter service is funded by TIER. City of York Council is facilitating them to implement e-scooters in the city.
What are the next steps for this trial?
We are waiting for the Government to evaluate the trials and find out if will continue, and if e-scooters will be legalised. We will also look at how e-scooter use interacts with other transport modes in the city.
What lessons might others learn from your experience?
One thing we have done is to take a ‘trial within a trial’ approach, where we have been slowly rolling out and expanding the e-scooter service area and parking bays so that any issues can be resolved before looking to expand out further. This approach enables people to get used to seeing this new form of transport on the streets, as well learning how to use them. As a result of this approach, we have seen demand from people wanting us to expand to more locations, rather than the potential for further complaints or scepticism.
Note: This is one strand of City of York’s work on integrated travel.