Image Credit: Arto Alanenpää
This interview took place on 22 September and it should be noted that Nouse does not endorse the opinions of anyone mentioned in this interview.
On 22 September, the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Philip Allott, invited Nouse to his most recent e-scooter awareness event. The commissioner’s decision to fund an awareness campaign is in response to receiving “numerous complaints from communities about the impact illegally driven vehicles are having where they live.”
The campaign’s main intention is to deter drivers from riding the scooters dangerously and to remind owners of privately owned e-scooters that “all e-scooters” need to be “fully insured”. The University of York currently has three Tier e-scooter stations located at East Campus, the Spring Lane Building and Wentworth College. Jessica Hall, Tier’s coordinator, told Nouse that students can expect more e-scooter stations at Halifax and Alcuin, the University’s West Campus sports centre, and outside the student union.
The scooters are an ideal alternative to the bus for moving between the University’s campuses, as Jessica told us that “at the University, we have a free service between East Campus and West Campus.” The scooters were first introduced in York in October 2020 as a trial, and have since been expanded across the area, with stations across the university and city centre. The price of driving e-scooters is marginally more expensive than taking a 66 First Bus into the city centre, as Jessica estimated that “15-minute journeys are going to cost you about £2.50”.
With students sometimes facing very long queues for buses into town, Jessica said that the cost for hopping on a scooter was a “reasonable price”. Unfortunately, the scooters are not accessible to the entire student community, as you must hold a driving licence to register with the app. With students facing severe penalties if they use the e-scooters improperly, Nouse asked Philip Allott what message he would like to send to students before they ride on an e-scooter for the first time.
Allott told us “The message I want to get across is to use them sensibly, do not take your mates on them and do not go on them under the influence of alcohol because it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Despite criticism of student behaviour intensifying during the pandemic, Allott was keen to emphasise that “the one thing I do know is that we should not take students for granted, students are bright folks- that’s why they are at university.”
As the City of York Council has set out their ambition for York to become a net-zero carbon city by 2030, Nouse asked Allott how effective he believed the e-scooters would be in helping the city achieve this target. Allott said the e- scooters were definitely “a way of helping them achieve that”, although acknowledged “they would not achieve that in isolation.”
The Roads Policing Group will be handing out leaflets across York to inform members of the public of the rules for riding e-scooters. Students have been encouraged to ‘think again’ before using the scooters while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as those who don’t could be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months. Only recently, The York Press reported that Jack Armstrong, 21, was stopped by the police for riding an e-scooter while under the influence of alcohol. Armstrong now cannot drive any vehicle for 23 months, has received a 12-month community order and this includes 50 hours of unpaid work. On top of this punishment, Armstrong needs to pay a £95 statutory surcharge and £85 for prosecution costs.
Traffic Sergeant Paul Cording from North Yorkshire Police told Nouse that they are “a really good way of getting around the city, but they are classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act.” He warned students that this means “you cannot drink drive, you cannot drug drive, you cannot use your mobile phone while driving and you cannot ride it dangerously.”
Councillor Paula Widdowson, a Liberal Democrat and Executive member for Environment and Climate Change, urged students to “enjoy them, have real fun on them, but please obey the rules”. Widdowson high - lighted that the scooters should not be ridden while on pavements and their indicators always used.
North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner was only recently elected in May 2021 which prompted Nouse to ask the commissioner how he planned to deliver positive changes for the University of York’s students.
Allott told Nouse that one of his “key priorities” was addressing “violence against women and girls” and added “I am proud to be the first commissioner that is actually putting together a strategy for dealing with violence against women and girls.”
With the murder of Sabina Nessa raising fears concerning the safety of streets at night, students will find it reassuring to hear that Allott told Nouse that “if male perpetrators make a nuisance and spoil the safety of women going out then we may need to face a situation where they have to be tagged and lose some of their liberty”.
When asked about the TIER scooters and their safety, the University stated that “The University is working with the scheme operators TIER and North Yorkshire Police to ensure safety among e-scooter users and the public.
“Only registered users are able to make use of e-scooters and e-bikes, and they must read and accept the Terms of Conditions of use, which outlines legal aspects and expectations of safe, appropriate behaviour.
“In addition, the e-scooters use technology to ensure they are parked in designated zones, and riders will be charged for not doing so.”