Essex Highways, Safer, Greener, Healthier

E-scooter trials - questions and answers

General questions and answers

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The trials are taking place in defined areas in Basildon, Colchester, Chelmsford. Small long term hire trials also took place in Brentwood and Braintree.

Essex is growing fast in population, homes and the number of people using our roads. If we don’t quickly find alternatives to some local journeys currently made in cars, we will have serious issues with congestion and pollution. Essex wants to be a leader in more sustainable, safe travel and transport for the potential jobs that will bring to the county but above all for the health and safety and efficient travel of our residents - part of our Safer, Greener, Healthier work. The e-scooter trials are designed in partnership with city, borough and district councils in Essex.

E-scooters can be quickly introduced, don’t impact on facilities for other travel or transport, can be rapidly rolled out across the county if trials are successful and have proved attractive for local travel across the world. They are an alternative to bicycles for those who want quick and easy, flexible on/off hire and our short-term schemes have no ownership, storage or security obligations.

The Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) has made orders that only the designated hire scooters are legal for the trial period and in the trial areas. Trials are currently being run across the country in various locations. Any e-scooters used anywhere other than the trial areas remain illegal (unless used on private land).

Under the new Transport Bill introduced in the 2022 Queen’s Speech, private electric scooters will be eventually legally allowed to ride them on public roads. Details of the Bill or timeline for implementation are yet to be published.

E-scooter hire may prove to be an alternative for commuters who no longer want to use their car for getting to the local station, say, or for workers who live quite close to their workplace for whom car-parking is a problem. ‘Park and Scoot’ options are being considered, to encourage scheme uptake.

Research conducted in June 2021 reveals that Spin e-scooters are most often used for short journeys, on average 3km in distance and 23 minutes in length, with 82% of riders stating they have used a Spin e-scooter to replace a solo drive car journey at least once already.

Research conducted by Spin in November 2022 demonstrated a clear modeshift, with riders regularly opting to use e-scooters rather than private cars, to make some key journeys. Commuting to work was the most commonly selected activity by Essex respondents, with 40% of respondents selecting it as an activity they use an e-scooter hire scheme for, closely followed by running general errands (39.2%), with going to and from public transportation stops on (32.3%). 63.9% of Essex survey respondents have used an e-scooter hire scheme to go to a local business to make a purchase. 75.1% of Essex respondents use an e-scooter hire scheme instead of using a personal car at least a few times a month, with some respondents using them considerably more.

Enforcement is a matter ultimately for Essex Police, who are supporting these trials. Any e-scooters used anywhere other than the trial areas remain illegal (unless used on private land) The e-scooter operator is working hard to ensure that their e-scooters can only be used correctly in the designated areas and will ban or warn users reported to be using the scheme inappropriately.

For short term hires Spin does not charge an unlock fee but a simple £0.20 per minute fee. Spin has also introduced commuter passes and free or subsidised rides for NHS workers and people on low incomes. You must register with the scheme via the app and then provide a valid driving licence.

When TIER replaces Spin in June, TIER will introduce their pricing model which includes a £1 unlock fee and a 15p per minute cost. TIER has a range of low cost passes and packages and subsidised rides for blue light workers and people looking for work.

E-scooters are classed as motor vehicles. That means you must be 18 or over, have a driving licence (including holding a provisional licence) and be insured to drive them. Insurance is included in the e-scooter hire fee. You must download the free Spin or later TIER app, complete the in app training and add a payment card. Once a user has unlocked a scooter they will be insured to ride for the duration of their journey. Only the person who has unlocked the scooter is allowed to ride.

Although helmets will not be a legal requirement for the trial, we always recommend users wear a helmet.  TIER will be doing helmet giveaways to users throughout the scheme, for example at safety training sessions.

Government is responsible for any final decisions on the results of the trials and as to whether e-scooters should be legalised for wider use, but criteria will include how many people use them, safe use and benefits in replacing car journeys.

In May it was announced that under the new Transport Bill introduced in the 2022 Queen’s Speech, private electric scooters will be eventually legally allowed to ride them on public roads. Details of the Bill or timeline for implementation are yet to be published.

The trials are due to conclude in November 2022. Data gathered from Essex’s trial will improve our understanding of how many people adopt the e-scooters to get around, where they are used and the impact they have on existing traffic patterns, as well as any environmental, safety and enforcement impacts.

Spin legal hire scooters have been a brightly coloured orange and look very different from typical illegal (when used on public roads or pavements) private scooters which are often grey or black. Legal scooters will have Spin logos on, visible at closer inspection.

TIER’s new model to be deployed in Essex is even more distinguishable with a greatly different design and full vehicle teal colour. These scooters will also have ID plates.

These scooters must not be ridden on the pavement (unless it is already a shared use cycleway with pedestrians). E-scooters are classed as motor vehicles, so police can enforce against people riding on the pavement, just as they can if a car drives on the pavement. Scooters are fitted with bells and lights to warn pedestrians, if necessary, of their approach. Pedestrians always have right of way and the training required for people registering with the scheme will remind driving-licence holders of that. The speed limit is set to a maximum of 12.5 mph.

You can ride a hire e-scooter on almost any road, within the trial areas, which is up to and including a 30mph limit and on any designated cycleway, including shared use.  There will be a small number of no-ride zones in high-footfall and very busy areas, such as near shopping centres where you will not be able to ride the e-scooter to ensure other road users’ safety. Always check ahead of your journey in the app where these zones are.

Scooters will be “geo-fenced” using GPS satellite technology so that the motor will not work outside the designated, legal trial areas.

People hiring these scooters must be adults with a driving licence. The rider can then be traced if they do ride or otherwise behave dangerously with the e-scooter. Drivers and riders of all sorts of vehicles currently must drive safely and e-scooters are no different. Anyone abandoning their e-scooter in a dangerous place could be prosecuted and certainly have their membership of the scheme suspended.

We appreciate that some trial e-scooters may seem as if they've been abandoned for those unfamiliar with the operator's parking policy. They are most likely just waiting for a new rider to pick it up. Riders are educated on parking best practice and the operator has teams who constantly review and relocate vehicles.

Bicycles don’t suit everyone. Not everyone who needs to travel short distances can walk quickly or has the physical ability to cycle. Bikes, even some e-bikes, need significant effort to go uphill and it may not be suitable for everyone to arrive at their destination having, for example, sweated while cycling, inside heavy winter or rain clothes.

Traffic Act 1988; Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999; Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016; and Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

The speed limit is set to a maximum of 12.5 mph. Trial e-scooters have a maximum speed of 10 MPH on the first ride and riders can toggle a maximum speed for following rides in app.

Spin Mobility Ltd, part of the Ford Motor Company, was originally selected to operate the trials in the Autumn of 2020 with the first fleet deployed in December 2020. The trials come at no cost to Essex County Council or the participating Districts.

In Spring 2022, Spin globally became part of TIER Mobility AG, Europe’s leading shared micromobility provider. With this change, TIER and Spin became the world’s largest multimodal micromobility operator, with a global footprint of 300,000 vehicles across 520 cities, towns and universities in 21 countries. Tier currently runs e-scooter trials similar to Spin's Essex schemes in York and across London working with TfL. Ford Motor Company remains involved as a strategic partner of this new arrangement globally.

Additional questions and answers

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In busy town centres there are specific parking areas and clear no-parking zones. In these areas users will be prevented from ending their ride unless they are at one of these specific parking locations. Information relating to each town or city can be found on the Spin/TIER App and riders are encouraged to always locate the parking areas before they start riding.

In predominantly residential areas, Spin e-scooters are “free-floating” so they can be parked in most places in the service area’s riding zones. They may appear like they are left behind but they are not. Riders must park responsibly and never block access for other road users, including driveways, bus stops and shop entrances. Users must park without blocking the pavement.

A parked scooter can either be picked up by the next user or will be collected and ‘rebalanced’ meaning they will be moved to areas with higher demand by the operator.

We do recommend parking at existing deployment locations in residential areas (marked with a P) so the scheme is easily accessible to all riders. Riders are also educated on parking best practice.

Spin has partnered with London Vision to provide a framework of training materials for riders, which is incorporated into a disability awareness safety module that can be accessed online, in-app and via in-person training events. Riders can also use the bell on the e-scooter to alert pedestrians that an e-scooter is approaching. All of Spin’s e-scooters are equipped with labels in braille too, which includes contact information for Spin’s customer support team.

Spin, Essex County Council and a range of local disability and access groups have been meeting to discuss the trial as part of a stakeholder group. Feedback from this group is taken on to improve the safety of the trial.

TIER will bring to the trial their work with safety organisations and charities and the advice of their national Safety Board as well as a range of technology features. For example TIER is leading efforts to trial and develop a permanent moving noise for e-scooters.

Abandoned or vandalised e-scooters should be reported to Spin directly. Remember that “free-floating” e-scooters can appear to be abandoned but they are most likely just parked within the guidelines and waiting for a new rider to pick them up. To report an issue please send an email to support@spin.pm. or call Spin on 0800 048 8155.

When TIER takes over their customer service details will be support@tier.app or call TIER on 0808 164 9486.

All anti-social behaviour and mis-use of e-scooters should be reported directly to Essex Police, who are supporting these trials. The operator has numerous measures in place to ensure their e-scooters are used in an appropriate manner through safety and education events and in-app information.

New riders must view a comprehensive set of rules and instructions and complete a safety test before they can take their first ride. TIER will also run in-person events across Essex to educate riders on how to safely ride an e-scooters and further training (such as with AA DriveTech) can be accessed on its website at any time.

Yes. The operator created a penalty structure — including warnings, fines and account suspension — and will ban users who are drawing regular complaints

Yes, trial vehicle speed is 12.5 MPH to ensure safety. The operator also uses slow-ride zones where the speed is restricted to 10 MPH. The very first ride for everyone is restricted to 10 MPH.

Spin’s Everyday Heroes programme has been offering free rides to eligible NHS workers (including doctors, nurses, cleaners, radiology and lab technicians, medical assistants, and hospital and clinic administrators). TIER will offer a similar programme via their own platform with holders of the Blue Lights Card. Please see more details online https://about.tier.app/ukaccess/.

Spin Access has been providing subsidised fares to unemployed and low-income riders registered with Jobcentre Plus and who are part of the Jobcentre Plus Travel programme. TIER will offer a similar programme via their own platform. Please see more details online https://about.tier.app/ukaccess/.