Benefits and dangers of electric scooters discussed by Worthing councillors

Electric scooters were discussed at Worthing Borough Council’s full meeting on Tuesday (October 19).

An electric scooter. There are some trials going on elsewhere in the country (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
An electric scooter. There are some trials going on elsewhere in the country (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Rosey Whorlow (Lab, Central) wanted to know how ‘e-scooters’ have been regulated in the town centre and along the promenade.

She said most were unaware of the consequences of being caught using one by police.

“Public awareness around the law surrounding these scooters is low,” she explained, “Most are unaware that it’s against the law to ride an e-scooter on a public road or pavement, with up to £300 fines and driving licence penalty points for those who break the law.”

It is not illegal to buy or sell e-scooters but the only ones that can be used in public are those rented through government trials.

E-scooters can only be used on private land, with permission, and Worthing executive member for health and wellbeing Sean McDonald (Con, Northbrook) warned of the consequences for those who are found falling foul of the rules.

He said: “If you are a disqualified driver, say you’ve been done for drink driving and decide to pop down to the pub on an e-scooter instead and you get stopped, you could be arrested for driving whilst disqualified.”

Ms Whorlow highlighted the dangers of e-scooters when driven unsafely, especially for those with visual impairments.

She said: “When used in public spaces shared by pedestrians, accidents involving e-scooters are ten times that of cyclists.

“E-scooters are fast and they’re silent and people with disabilities, such as visual impairments, have little or no warning that they’re approaching.

“The charity Guide Dogs state that guide dogs and other service dogs are particularly at risk of near misses and other incidents

“Research demonstrates that the visually impaired feel far less confident to leave home due to the perceived risks of e-scooter related incidents.”

Ms Whorlow added that the weight, speed and presence of e-scooters in the town centre made them particularly dangerous.

Mr McDonald admitted he was in two minds about the e-scooters, saying: “They are a nuisance but at the same time they are a fabulous alternative form of transport.

“I think there is a future for them as well – I happened to be over at Ford Industrial Estate having a vehicle repaired and, while I was there, at least 12 people came into work using electric scooters.

“That freed up the road from 12 vehicles, that reduces our carbon footprint.”

He said that he would like to see the scooters legalized but not before a ‘proactive approach’ is agreed between the highways authority and Sussex Police to enforce legal use.

He expressed concerns over enforcement, saying: ‘It’s literally not happening’.

“We keep putting pressure on Sussex Police to do something about it,” he said.

“We will continue to put pressure on for something to be done about this.”

According to Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, as of June, 15 scooters had been seized by the force this financial year.

Mr McDonald did acknowledge that the e-scooters should only be used on private land and can be dangerous, saying: “E-scooters are completely and utterly illegal on the roads or on the public highway – that’s not in dispute.”