Kent to revolutionise transport with electric scooters
Kent City Council has confirmed it wants to test hire electric scooters on the streets of Kent in what could be a 'transport revolution' to the city.
The Department of Transport has legalised the two-wheeled scooter trial after advising people to avoid public transport following coronavirus infection.
Electric scooter-sharing systems are growing in popularity after success in Santa Monica, Paris and San Francisco.
Kent County Council has confirmed that it has informed the Department for Transport (DfT) of its intention to carry out trials of electric scooters in Canterbury and plans to submit them in the near future.
Fred Jones is the UK head of TIER, one of Europe's biggest operators of electric scooters, and is one of those hoping to take over the city's tender if the plan goes ahead.
The company already runs electric scooter rental programs in about 70 cities across the continent.
Mr Jones, who previously headed Uber in the UK, said he thought Canterbury was well suited to a thriving mode of transport.
He said: "Canterbury's vibrant place - two universities, a large tourist town, a vibrant local retail community - all these signs lead me to believe that it will contain new and innovative technologies.
"In the short term, we need to reopen our economy and our communities from the lockdown, and naturally people are advised not to use public transport.
"It's a very important, safe, socially isolated way to help people travel around cities cheaply and easily."
In the long run, he thinks electric scooters could help solve the city's persistent traffic congestion and pollution problems.
"Scooters are much smaller and have zero emissions," Mr Jones said."This could be a very important way to get people off their electricity, reduce traffic congestion and make cities more livable."
If awarded a bid to conduct a trial in Canterbury, TIER would start with a small number of scooters operating in limited areas of the city.
"But eventually, if scooters can operate around major metropolitan areas and residential areas, it could be hundreds of scooters," Mr Jones said.
TIER operates through an app, and electric scooters are rented on a pay-as-you-go basis.Users will have to pay around £1 to unlock the car, then charge by the minute and offer a deal for regular users.
"Our prices are usually very similar to bus fares, or cheaper if possible," he added."If you are an ordinary commuter, it will be less than your monthly bus pass."
The scooter has a top speed of 15.5mph and can only be ridden by people aged 17 and over with a temporary or full driving licence.
"It's a new form of transport that people aren't familiar with," Mr Jones said."There is some concern among some members of society, particularly vulnerable groups in the community, such as amblyopia and the blind."
But he added that there are measures aimed at ensuring a safe experience.Each bike comes with a collapsible crash helmet, wide front wheels designed to reduce risk from potholes and cobblestones, and bells.
For new users, the speed of the scooter is limited for the first five minutes to give them time to get used to the vehicle.