MORE DATA: Sunderland E-scooter trial extension
Neuron e-scooter, Image: LDRS
Sunderland’s e-scooter trial is set to continue into next year so more data can be gathered on the use of the vehicles.
E-scooter operator Neuron began Sunderland’s rental trial at the end of March 2021 with around 200 distinctive orange e-scooters deployed across the city.
Sunderland is among dozens of cities and towns across the country running similar trials with information fed into the Department for Transport (DfT).
The trial on Wearside was due to expire at the end of November, however local authorities have been given the opportunity to extend the scheme.
As part of its meeting on Tuesday (September 14), Sunderland City Council’s cabinet backed a recommendation to extend the e-scooter trial to the end of March 2022.
Councillor Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for environment and transport, presented a report to cabinet outlining the reasons behind the move.
She said the extension was in line with allowing the government and DfT extra time to gather information on how all trials were working nationwide.
Cllr Rowntree told the meeting: “Sunderland’s trial was launched on March 31 2021 and was intended to be in place for eight months until November 30 2021.
“Government ministers have approved an extension of the current e-scooter trials from November 30 2021 to March 31 2022.
“The guiding principle for this change is trial continuation rather than expansion or market development.”
Cllr Rowntree added: “No changes to the operation of the trial will take place, the trial will continue with its current arrangements and restrictions.
“The trial extension will allow extra time for trials to reach capacity and for the DfT to gather additional data.
“The evidence gathered in the trial will guide final decisions about whether and, if so, how to fully legalise the use of e-scooters.
“It is important that Sunderland continues to take part in the trial, as data collected will contribute to deciding the long-term vision of sustainable and active travel in Sunderland and the UK.”
Sunderland City Council has the trial under continuous review and in the first four months there were 42,626 rides covering around 66,500 miles and 45 complaints, representing less than 0.11% of rides.
A rider survey in May also found that 42% of e-scooter rides had directly displaced car journeys meaning around 12,000 fewer car trips in Sunderland.
George Symes, UK Regional Manager at Neuron Mobility, said: “We’re thrilled that the extension of our e-scooter trial in Sunderland has today been confirmed by Sunderland City Council.
“Since beginning operations in March, our e-scooters have been used for over 42,000 trips and are already helping to boost the local economy with 54% of rides resulting in a purchase.
“By extending the trial, our e-scooters will continue to have a positive impact on the environment.
“Already, over 42% displace a car journey, which has contributed to an elimination of around 30 tonnes of CO2 in the North East.
“Neuron’s e-scooters have been embraced by locals, with 86% of riders believing that they have created a positive impact on the city.
“We’re very pleased that our e-scooters can continue to offer a sustainable, socially-distanced, and safe mode of transport in Sunderland.”
At this week’s cabinet meeting, an alternative option not to extend the e-scooter trial was also discounted by city leaders.
A report prepared for cabinet reads: “This option is rejected on the basis that the absence of sustainable travel choices would not accord with the council or city ambitions on becoming carbon neutral or the City Plan aims.”
Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter
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