Blind Campaigners Call for E-scooter Trial To Be Ditched

Claim they are a trip hazard and make disabled people fearful to leave home

Andrew Hodgeson and Sarah Gayton by E-scooters in HammersmithAndrew Hodgeson and Sarah Gayton by E-scooters in Hammersmith

Blind campaigners have demanded Transport for London stop its e-scooter trials as the vehicles make them afraid to leave their homes.

Hammersmith resident and blind activist Andrew Hodgeson is concerned the scooters frighten blind people as they fear being knocked over or tripped up by them.

Since 2019 the scooters have been linked to at least five deaths in the UK including a 16-year-old boy in Bromley after a hit-and-run collision with a car.

The electric scooters are currently being trialled in nine London boroughs including Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and the City of London.

Andrew, who is also the UK’s National Federation of the Blind president, said, “I know people who are frightened. If they had a near miss with an e-scooter they probably wouldn’t go out.

“We want to have the freedom to walk our streets safely. There is no way of stopping them. Our solution would be to ban them altogether.”

The federation recently took a petition to 10 Downing Street asking for a halt on all hire schemes in the UK and asked for all e-scooters to remain illegal on British roads.

Campaigners say the vehicles are a dangerous trip hazard for disabled people when they are parked.

Currently up to 150 e-scooters are available for hire in the trial London boroughs – but the campaigners are worried that a rising number of e-scooters will cause more hazards.

Campaigner Sarah Gayton said, “Suddenly there will be 500 e-scooters in each borough. This will extend into a massive problem. There is no way this can be policed safely.

“They are unstable. The kick board is a trip hazard. There is a blind lady who has fallen over them 14 times.”

Claim made that e-scooters present a trip hazard for the disabled
Claim made that e-scooters present a trip hazard for the disabled

Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said, “We want this trial to work for everybody in London. All the rental e-scooters have bells and everyone who hires an e-scooter is required to complete safety training.

“Rental e-scooters also have GPS controlled parking, meaning that trips can only end in designated parking bays. This also helps prevent obstruction with pedestrians.

“The rental operators are engaging with the visually impaired community to explore further innovative solutions including audible signals.

“A number of additional safety features for the London rental trial, including lower speed limits and always-on lighting make it safer for everyone in London.”

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

August 5, 2021