Sheffield businessman who heads up Electric Scooters England on mission to make e-scooters safe and road legal

As e-scooters continue to face a public backlash, a Sheffield businessman is on a mission to help make the vehicles safe and road legal.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 5:30 pm

Gordon Riley, who owns Yorkshire Electric Scooters in Attercliffe and heads up Electric Scooters England, said the devices need to be regulated as they still fall into a ‘grey area’.

Currently, the machines can only be ridden legally on private land with the landowner’s permission, or on public roads and cycle lanes where there is a government-approved rental trial.

To be ridden on public roads, they need to conform to the same rules as cars, with licence plates, indicators, rear lights, tax and insurance, but those currently on sale don’t comply with these conditions.

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To be ridden on public roads they need to conform to the same rules as cars, with licence plates, indicators, rear lights, tax and insurance but those currently on sale don’t comply with these conditions.

The only exception to these laws is the government-approved trials being carried out in 32 cities around the UK.

However, there are no government-approved trials taking place in South Yorkshire.

The 50-year-old businessman said he vows to change the perception of e-scooters through a national network that is aimed at educating and lobbying to ensure that the devices are regulated.

Gordon Riley, the owner of Yorkshire Electric Scooters in Attercliffe, Sheffield, is on a mission to make e-scooters legal and safe for public use.

He said: "The councils aren’t on board with it at the moment, and the government isn’t on board with it either.

“So through Electric Scooters England that I’ve set up, we will try to combat those perceptions to educate, make safe, lobby and make sure everything is regulated.

“We will also give training on a national level, so we will lobby in various departments, associations, and professionals, including councillors in Sheffield, to try and make this happen.

"I think we have a lot of like-minded associations, retailers, manufacturers, and the public, and we can make this a really big and successful thing."

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A source of debate

E-scooters have been a source of contention among the public following the revelation of multiple events, some of which resulted in fatalities.

According to new figures released by the Department for Transport, the devices have injured 131 pedestrians in Britain over 12 months.

Thirty-seven of the casualties suffered injuries which have been described as ‘serious’.

Other road users injured in e-scooter collisions in the year ending June include 36 cyclists and 32 vehicle occupants.

Meanwhile, 14 casualties were aged 70 and above, while 17 were between 60 and 69, and 21 children under 10 were injured.

The figures also show that three e-scooter users were killed in crashes, and a further 729 were injured.

In South Yorkshire alone, five casualties were recorded by South Yorkshire Police as having been involved in accidents with the vehicles during 2020.

As a result, there have been numerous calls for an outright ban.

South Yorkshire Police have also issued a warning to parents who are thinking of buying an e-scooter as a Christmas present.If caught using the device on a public road or other prohibited space, the parents may be responsible for any fines incurred from them being ridden illegally as well as the risk of prosecution.

‘Educate the e-scooter owners’

But Gordon said there needs to be proper regulation in place, by providing infrastructure to support the e-scooter owners so they are segregated completely from other motor users.

He said: "When they do become legal, they need to be safe. We need to give them an education.

“Like I said, these are all the things that we are trying to create because I’m aware of the problems.

“Therefore, it’s my goal and the success of the company and the success of the community as well to overcome these hurdles, so we have got plans, big plans indeed, but it's going to take more than me.

“It's going to take a partnership of people that needs to come together and resolve this with the government and governmental bodies.”

He said he became a strong advocate of the use of e-scooters and e-bikes after seeing other European countries adopting this mode of transportation in place of cars.

"I did some travelling and I went to Copenhagen and Stockholm, where I saw that during rush hours, there were more e-scooters and e-bikes than there were cars in the centre of the town and it was a life-changing moment,” he said.

"I thought of what could be done and what is being done already in different European countries.

"So my initial vision is to create a corridor from the centre of Sheffield to Tinsley Viaduct that is completely scooter-safe like they did a while ago when they segregated some of the lanes. It’s legal.”

Rental tests do not reflect real situation

Gordon said although the Government is doing rental tests in selected cities, it still does not reflect the real situation on the ground.

He added: "I appreciate that the Government is doing the rental tests, but that’s only one part of the market. The rentals are high per hour, and they (those who use them) have no emotional or financial investment in scooters, whereas scooter owners tend to look after them more.

"They have more to lose, so they want to do things by the book, so we just need to have the opportunity to give it to them."

In his advice to e-scooter owners, he stressed the need to adhere to the law.

He explained: "Please be safe and be legal. It’s important that you follow the law.

"I understand it’s really frustrating how the trials have been extended for another 12 months.

“It was supposed to end on July 4 this year, and I was looking to be the same time next year, but do persevere.

"I invested all my time, all my money and passion into this and I do believe it will change because of what I’ve seen in the European countries, so please stay patient, be safe and be legal."