E-scooter trials start in Essex
- Credit: Spin
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world and how many of us view it. It has highlighted the impact we are having on our planet and that significant changes must be made before it is irreversible.
Small changes can make a huge impact to help reduce our carbon footprint, and traffic pollution is certainly a problem. So could the introduction of e-scooters be one of these changes?
‘As part of its Safer, Greener, Healthier Transport Campaign, Essex County Council were looking for an alternative mode of transport that would reduce emissions and provide the local community with an environmentally friendly travel option,’ says Steve Pyer, UK country manager of Spin, an e-scooter rental company and the micro-mobility unit of Ford Motor Company.
'So far, more than 15,000 rides have been taken in Essex since Spin kickstarted its Essex operations in Basildon back in late 2020'
The use of cars fell dramatically during the UK’s national lockdowns. According to the Global Carbon Project website, ‘This year saw carbon emissions decline by 2.4 billion tonnes’.
Its study indicates that, ‘emissions have declined by around 7% this year. France and the UK saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to the second wave of infections’.
But can this improvement be sustained? Lord Randall, chair of the Essex Climate Action Commission, believes it’s essential that it is: ‘The Commission has agreed we must take action now to reduce our carbon footprint in Essex.
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'With almost a third of greenhouse gases coming from transport, we need to take a serious look at how we are moving about the county and how we can make our transport more sustainable.’
‘Any idea which may reveal itself to be a valid contribution to reducing greenhouse gases has my attention, we can’t rule anything out. That’s why a trial of e-scooters was one of the Commission’s recommendations in its recent interim report.
'I welcome these e-scooter trials and am glad to see that the safety of e-scooter users, as well as other road users and pedestrians, is of paramount importance. I’m very curious to discover if e-scooters are a sustainable way to move around Essex towns and cities and I will be watching these trials with great interest.’
With pilot approval from the Department of Transport (DfT), Spin was given the green light in Essex for innovative e-scooter trials of travel. So far, more than 15,000 rides have been taken in Essex since it kickstarted its Essex operations in Basildon back in late 2020.
Following successful launches in Chelmsford and Colchester in March, it launched its fourth Essex location for a public-hire e-scooter trial was Clacton on Sea, with Braintree and Brentwood to follow.
Each trial area in Essex has been co-designed with district borough and city councils to support the unique travel needs of each town.
Spin is also looking to engage with NHS facilities to discuss potential e-scooter parking areas nearby for easier access for riders to their facilities. This marks the beginning of a phased rollout of Spin’s fleet that will be managed in close collaboration with Tendring District Council and Essex County Council.
Cllr Alex Porter, Tendring District Council cabinet member for leisure and tourism, welcomed the pilot starting in Clacton: ‘'These [trials] have huge potential to support our work to tackle climate change locally by allowing an alternative to cars and buses, therefore reducing local emissions, as well as supporting people to get out and explore our parks, seafront and town centre.’
‘We are thrilled that we now operate on Ford’s home turf here in Essex. We are a Ford-owned company and Essex is Ford’s spiritual home'
Spin is proud to be keeping it local too, using Ford’s Dagenham plant as a depot to service and store e-scooters.
‘We are thrilled that we now operate on Ford’s home turf here in Essex,’ says Steve. ‘We are a Ford-owned company and Essex is Ford’s spiritual home. With Ford Dunton (Basildon) employing 3,000 people, most of which live in Essex, this was a natural place for us to set up operations.
‘Unlike private e-scooters that are still illegal in the UK, we have much more control of the e-scooters' speed and the areas where people can ride and park,’ continues Steve.
‘Only Spin scooters hired as part of this trial are legal on Essex roads. Current rules are that Spin e-scooters are allowed to go anywhere that bicycles are legally allowed to go. Geofencing technology will be used to stop e-scooters being used in areas where they are not permitted and they can operate at a maximum of 15.5 mph.’
So what does the future hold for Spin in the county?
Steve is optimistic: ‘Essex County Council will have strong feedback channels and will be monitoring and adjusting each pilot trial as time progresses. No other regions in Essex can now join, but I am sure they will be looking with interest with a view to introducing them at the end of the trial.’
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