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E-scooter trial in York approved by council

The Hospital and University will be hosting e-scooter rentals to ease strain on transportation services

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Image Credit: City of York Council

York City Council has approved a proposal to introduce a 12-month long trial period granting publicly accessible e-scooters and e-bikes at The University of York and York Hospital. The city of York will join cities like Cambridge and Milton Keynes, among other locations like Kettering, in offering similar e-transportation renting schemes.

The scheme is expected to be brought forward in late September and will be funded, and run, in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT). The Council’s preferred supplier has been identified as TIER, who have been identified as Sole operator in part due to their “unrivalled sustainability credentials,” as reported by the Northern Echo. TIER will likewise be working closely alongside both York Hospital and the University in ensuring the safety, security and engagement with the key demographics of commuters that the trial requires to be successful.

The objective of the trial is to support an environmentally friendly and sustainable restart of local travel, and to help mitigate impacts on currently available public transport and capacity in light of restrictions necessitated by Covid-19. Councillor Andy D’Agorne, York’s executive member for Transport has said:

“The trial could also form part of the city’s Covid-19 response in terms of, for example, providing sustainable alternatives to support capacity on public transport for key workers at the hospital.”

The proposal has already received a positive reaction from some of it’s proposed partners, with Jane Money, head of Sustainability for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust stating:

“We look forward to further discussions on this project which seeks to reduce traffic congestion and tackle air pollution through this proposal for York Hospital to be a host site for the scooters.”

The proposal itself would seek to add charging bays, e-scooters and e-bikes to the grounds of both York Hospital and the University of York, with the scooters available for renting by members of the public via a mobile app which will also inform the user of designated e-scooter parking bays throughout the city.

Per DfT regulations, only those that hold at least a provisional driver's license would be legally allowed to ride the scooters and any rider must be covered by insurance to operate the vehicles. Likewise, the e-scooters are to be treated as legally similar to electrically assisted pedal-cycles and will be allowed on roads and cyclepaths, but must not be ridden on footpaths. The rules surrounding e-scooters in pilot schemes such as the one taking place in York are new, as ownership and use of private e-scooters is not legal in the UK, as such, only those hired through this scheme can be ridden in public.

The scooters will have a maximum speed of 15.5mph but further restrictions on speed may be enforced via “geo-fencing” and location services in certain pedestrianised and heavily populated areas. These further restrictions would be imposed by TIER should they be necessary, as the council is not responsible for operating the rental service.

The scooters will cost an initial £1 to unlock and will charge each user an additional £0.15 for each minute of ride time, which totals £10 an hour for the first hour, and £9 an hour for each subsequent hour of ride time, making the scooter rentals significantly more costly than hiring an electric car from University preferred distributor Enterprise, who market some of their electric and hybrid vehicles as low as £2.70 per hour of use. Likewise, it is significantly more expensive than push-bike hiring schemes, such as those that exist in Warwick, which charge £10 for between 5-24 hours of hire time.

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