Crime and safety fears over use of e-scooters in Hampstead
- Credit: PA
Electric scooters could endanger people’s safety in Hampstead, neighbourhood groups have warned.
Residents fear the area’s narrow streets could lead to accidents if e-scooters are given the green light.
Susan West, chair of the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said that the expansion of licensed e-scooters could lead to a rise in crime, and that they posed a “significant” risk to pedestrians.
Citing the fear of further accidents, Susan said: “My fear is that our over-stretched police will not have the resources to tackle e-scooter use on pavements or e-scooter enabled crime.”
She added: “E-scooter and bike riding on pavements has become so commonplace that pedestrians tend not to notice, consequently becoming less vigilant and more vulnerable to robbery.”
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Camden is considering joining an ongoing Transport for London trial, which has already seen the use of rental e-scooters legalised for an initial 12 month period in areas including Tower Hamlets, Canary Wharf, Hammersmith, Fulham and Richmond.
The TfL trial features three e-scooter rental firms – Dott, Lime and Tier. Riders are limited to 12.5mph and have to take an online safety course.
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The rental e-scooters must only be used on the road and riders must be 18 or above.
Andrew Haslam-Jones, chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society’s town sub-committee, said the group was supportive of measures dissuading car use and reducing pollution.
However he urged any parking of e-scooters to be sensitive to other road users and pedestrians.
“We would not want a repeat of the previous situation where very large numbers of electric hire bikes were appearing on Hampstead High Street and several were being parked on narrow pavements and getting in the way of prams, wheelchairs and people with seeing difficulties,” Andrew said.
A TfL study, based on US data, suggested e-scooter users needed hospital treatment from accidents every 3.1 years on average.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum said it supported solutions that reduce traffic, but that it had concerns over the safety of e-scooters in Hampstead’s “narrow, crowded and hilly streets”.
Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper said he was supportive of introducing cleaner ways of travelling, calling e-scooters a “great way to help us to combat climate change and local air pollution”.
“They won't be for everyone, but anyone they can get moving in new, clean, safe ways will be positive,” Cllr Cooper said.
He added: “Bikes and manual scooters have been a problem on pavements, and ensuring the ban on using e-scooters on the pavement is enforceable is vital."
Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden Council’s cabinet member for transport, said “We want our streets to have more space for everyone to walk and cycle, for you to be breathing cleaner air, for children to get to and from school safely and for businesses to be able to flourish.
“We are looking carefully at whether rental e-scooters could be part of this effort, by enabling an alternative mode of transport that is emission-free and reducing the number of motor vehicles on our streets.
“Rental e-scooters – in contrast to those privately owned ones that have proliferated recently – would be trackable and would have to be parked in designated bays.”
In May the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott criticised “inconsiderate” e-scooter riders as a “menace”.
He published figures suggesting there are more than 7,500 rental scooters in use, with more than 800 incidents having been reported to local authorities.
Use of private e-scooters on public roads remains illegal. The Metropolitan Police removed more than 500 uninsured private e-scooters across the capital in a “week of action” in June.
In addition to seizing e-scooters, officers can impose up to a £300 fine and add six penalty points to people’s driving licences.
For more information on Camden’s e-scooters consultation visit https://consultations.wearecamden.org/supporting-communities/electric-scooter-trial-in-camden/