E-scooters and Older People

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2021 Virtual Retired Members Conference
29 June 2021

Conference is concerned over the increasing use of electric powered motorised 2-wheeled scooters (e-scooters) on roads and pavements throughout the United Kingdom. Conference notes that, although versions of e-scooters first appeared on London streets as long ago as 1916, It is only recently that steps are being taken to have them formally classified as motor vehicles and subject to regulation as such.

Whilst conference recognises the contribution e-scooters make to reducing pollution and the green agenda, conference notes that older and disabled people’s groups have been raising safety concerns over e-scooters in particular the fact that these vehicles run silently and without any lighting. Older people, who are disproportionately affected by sight and hearing loss, are vulnerable to injury by these scooters being ridden without due care and attention to others.

Conference further notes, the government has given the go-ahead for its own e-scooter trials without considering safety issues nor taking any action over the use of e-scooters outside of the limited scope of its trials. These trials are to be carried out in areas across the country but will be limited to rental on the same terms as electrically assisted cycle hire.

For example, four London Boroughs which will only recognise legal e-scooters as ones which can only be rented and ridden on roads in designated areas with speeds limiters fitted. These will be classified as electrically assisted cycles, which can only be ridden by holders of a provisional licence on roads. It is expected that the e-scooters in these trials (which can be hired for just under £.50 per hour plus £1 deposit) will have their speeds limited to 12-5 miles per hour and will be fitted with limiting devices which will essentially switch the motor off once the e-scooter is outside the borough boundary.

However, these trials fail to recognise the proliferation of privately owned e-scooters, some of which can reach speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Such e-scooters are unlicensed and are ridden with dangerous inconsideration and impunity by youths and adults on streets and sidewalks alike, despite, theoretically, being limited by law to use solely on private land. Conference notes that the scale of this problem was highlighted by the Metropolitan Police taking specific action against illegal e-scooter use one week in June which resulted in the confiscation of 507 vehicles.

Conference is concerned that, at the end of June 2021 seventy people have been involved in accidents with e-scooters with serious injuries occurring in South London and Wolverhampton. Older people are increasingly at risk of injury on our streets due to the dangerous use of privately owned and unregulated e-scooters.

Conference believes that there is an urgent ned for clear legislation and regulation to restrict where and how e-scooters can be used in the future to protect older people from reckless riders of these motor vehicles. Such regulation must include the requirement for sound and lights to warn of an e-scooters approach as well as some method of clearly identifying the owner/rider of the vehicle.

Conference instructs the National Retired Members Committee to:

1)Start a petition on behalf of the National Retired Members Organisation to call on the government to regulate e-scooters as road vehicles suitable for the use of appropriate adults,

2) publicise this petition throughout Regions, Service Groups and Branches of UNISON, and

3) work with the National Pensioners Convention, Scottish Pensioners Forum, Age UK and other relevant groups to co-ordinate campaigns to ensure that older people are not at risk from reckless use of e-scooters.