Burnley Council leader column: Proactive steps needed to tackle potential perils of e-scooters
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This surge in popularity has given rise to a host of challenges, necessitating a more comprehensive approach to addressing the perils associated with their usage.
Recent incidents within Burnley town centre have drawn attention to the potentially catastrophic consequences of this new trend, especially when operated without a sense of responsibility. It's evident that in public spaces, be it town centres, parks, or local communities, e-scooters introduce a range of hazards to pedestrians, cyclists, and even motorists.
A significant number of riders often without any safety equipment put themselves and other road users and pedestrians at risk by choosing to ride on pavements and ignoring traffic regulations. This blatant disregard for their own safety and that of others poses heightened dangers due to the near-silent operation of e-scooters, as unsuspecting pedestrians and motorists may not be aware of their approaching. Additionally e-scooters can achieve considerable speeds, often matching or even surpassing the pace of cyclists. In crowded areas this presents an alarming risk of collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles.
The absence of a robust regulatory framework and lack of enforcement surrounding e-scooter use only contributes to the reckless behaviour exhibited by riders. This underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to regulation and enforcement to maintain the safety and accessibility of shared public spaces.
Considering these pressing issues, it is imperative that we take proactive steps to tackle the potential perils of e-scooters across the borough and safeguard the well-being of residents.
I have therefore asked for council officers to engage with the police and relevant stakeholders as a first step towards finding a comprehensive solution.
Despite regulations that restrict e-scooter usage in public spaces, there is a notable lack of effective enforcement. This gap must be bridged, with greater attention directed towards those who ride on pavements and pedestrianised areas or show a disregard for traffic rules.
Another worrying trend is riders wearing face coverings to hide their identity and this has been directly linked to an increase in anti-social behaviour. I will be asking the police to investigate this as a matter of urgency.
My personal opinion is that to promote accountability and responsible behaviour, users should be required to register the scooters to verify identity. This approach would foster a culture of responsibility and discourage reckless actions. Moreover, enforcing age restrictions can prevent minors from using e-scooters without proper supervision, experience, or training, thus minimising potential risks.
However, in the first instance we will work to educate and raise awareness of the dangers irresponsible behaviour can pose. There needs be a particular focus on educating the younger generation who make up a significant proportion of e-scooter riders. It is only through collective action that we can make our streets, parks, and town centres safer for everyone.
If riders are then unable to use them safely, and considering how dangerous they have become, government will need to seriously consider prohibiting their use.