Campaigners for blind and visually impaired groups demand an end to e-scooter trials
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 19/07/2021
Campaigners are calling on the government to stop rentable e-scooter trials until safety reviews have been completed, claiming the vehicles have made towns and cities “no go zones,” for blind people.
The UK’s National Federation of the Blind will take a petition to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday asking for a halt all for-hire schemes, while also asking that private e-scooters remain illegal for use on Britain’s roads.
Sarah Gayton, the group’s Street Access Campaigns Coordinator, said the scooters had “taken over pavements”.
“People are being hit, they’re being hurt, people have got some really serious injuries,” she said.
“We know in Nottingham that people’s anxiety is a lot higher because of e-scooters, we know in Liverpool it’s been called a no-go area area for blind and visually impaired people because of the rental e-scooters there that are riding over the pavements and people leaving e-scooters everywhere.”
The campaign group is also calling for the government to ban retailers from selling e-scooters to the public.
Tom Walker from Liverpool who is blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other, will travel to London to help deliver the petition.
He can remember a recent incident in which he felt a “whoosh of air,” go past him, shortly before a member of the public told him he had been nearly knocked over by one of the scooters, which can travel at speeds of around 15mph.
“I’m fairly relaxed about things and it didn’t concern me too much,” he said. “But for many blind and partially sighted people, especially those that have just lost their sight, that would have been a terrifying experience.”
A number of serious incidents have been linked to the vehicles, including at least five deaths as well as thefts and accidents.
On Sunday, a 16-year-old schoolboy became the latest person to die while riding one after a hit-and-run collision with a car in Bromley, south London.
Police forces across the country are intensifying their efforts to clamp down on people using privately owned e-scooters, including in the West Midlands, where officers seized nine yesterday.
PC Paul Styler from its Road Harm Prevention team said if someone’s e-scooter is taken there is “very little hope” of it being returned.
Last month, the government legalised rental trials of e-scooters and there are pilot schemes in a number of major cities across the country.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Safety will always be our top priority and the trials currently taking place in 32 regions across England help us to better understand the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.”
© Sky News 2020