Calls for legalisation of e-scooters grow as Halfords reports a huge rise in sales of the controversial products during the pandemic
- Under a current trial scheme, only rental e-scooters are allowed on public roads
- Environmental and congestion alleviation are among e-scooters’ touted benefits
- Research has found 52% of Britons would use an e-scooter for their commute
Cycling retailer Halfords has revealed sales of its e-mobility products have nearly tripled over the last year.
The group said they grew by 184 per cent in the first half of the financial year, and is expecting a considerable number of e-scooters to be bought for Christmas.
Demand for the product, alongside bicycles and electric bikes, have surged in 2020 as environmental concerns have risen and people avoid using public transport because of fears of contracting the coronavirus.
Halfords is training another 1,500 techniciams to help service the growing trade in electric mobility vehicles like electric cars, e-scooters and e-bikes
It is training another 1,500 technicians to help service the growing trade in e-mobility devices and is further urging the UK government to legalise e-scooters on public roads. At the moment, only rental e-scooters are allowed under a trial scheme that began in July.
Research published earlier this year by the group showed that more than 70 per cent of people would consider using one for short journeys if they became legal, while just over half would use one for their daily commute.
Forty-five per cent of adults also thought travelling to work on them would be fun while a majority believed they make the environment cleaner and would ease congestion.
In the 20 weeks to mid-August, Halfords customers bought 230 per cent more e-scooters and e-bikes, which the company partly attributed to the increasing popularity of staycations
The firm’s e-mobility expert Matt Banks said: ‘If made legal, personal e-scooters could offer a number of benefits. They have the potential to offer a low-cost alternative to using public transport or cars– for shorter journeys in particular.
‘They are a ready to ride solution and mean you can just pop on your helmet, jump on your scooter and go.
‘They take minutes to set up and are simple to ride and they are better for the environment, helping to ease congestion and address pollution problems.’
Almost exactly two months ago, Halfords wrote that purchases of e-scooters in the previous three weeks were up 450 per cent on the same period last year.
In the 20 weeks to mid-August meanwhile, customers bought 230 per cent more e-scooters and e-bikes, which the company partly attributed to the increasing popularity of staycations among Britons.
However, the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) has warned today that decriminalising e-scooters could lead to a rise in accidents for people with poor sight.
The e-scooter invasion: UK trials of rental e-scooters have been running since the summer
The organisation told the Daily Telegraph that blind and partially sighted Britons had contacted them about being ‘impacted’ by illegally-ridden e-scooter vehicles.
‘They’re fast-moving and can be extremely difficult for blind or partially sighted people to see and hear,’ commented the pressure group’s head of policy and public affairs Eleanor Thompson.
‘Equally, it may not always be obvious to someone riding an e-scooter they are approaching a pedestrian with sight loss, increasing the risk of accidents at crossing points or where e-scooters are ridden in pedestrian areas or on pavements.
The Transport Select Committee have called for the legalisation of e-scooters on public roads
She added: ‘Any longer-term plans to legalise e-scooters should recognise the very real concerns people with sight loss have, particularly on pavement use.’
Concerns about the safe use of e-scooters were detailed in a Transport Select Committee report published in October that called for their legalisation on public roads.
It said they should be outlawed on pavements because of their potential harm to walkers, especially those with visual impairments, and recommended the government give local authorities the ability to set speed limits on them.
Last month, the AA announced it would offer road safety lessons and a theory test to e-scooter motorists that will include teaching them how to safely share designated routes with other transport vehicles and pedestrians.
Shares in Halfords ended the 0.76 per cent lower at £2.60.